Class Notes: Week 1

This class focuses on teaching an American tradition which looks at the places where the poetic mind and the reportorial mind find ways of intersecting.

When reading, focus on the one book each week, then read the articles.

  • Why does Whitman refer to some pieces as poems and others as reports?
  • Email poems around by Friday.
  • 40,000 eggs?!
  • Chapbook – polished thing
  • Folders – drafts & processes
  • Errol Morris: Documentary filmmaker, what is it to craft a nonfiction truth?


  1. Write a letter (refer to syllabus)
  2. Write a ballad
  3. Read civil war poetry and prose
  • Tom Sleigh: Display of collector’s hunger/sensory hunger?
  • Paul Muldoon – notes towards getting round
  • Role of theoretical
  • New Yorker podcast – there’s someone whose job it is to fact-check poems
  • Ballad: a series of small, intense sound snapshots
  • Auden – Fall of Rome – reclaiming the ballad as a modern form


  1. Don’t worry too much about making it look like a ballad, e.g. we don’t necessarily have to keep i the ABAB rhyme scheme.
  2. Try to think more about what a ballad is and what it is for.
Class Notes: Week 1

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