Class Notes: Reimagining Bunting – Belfast’s Lost Sounds

  • Visit to special collections
  • Music of 1600s, 1700s
  • Reading/recital
  • Lecture/concert Wednesday @ 1
  • Turlough O’Carolan
  • Assimilation of other folk collections under Irish folk umbrella
  • Archive March 7
  • Story of how the Bunting Archive came to Queen’s
  • Earliest Irish publication of Irish music
Class Notes: Reimagining Bunting – Belfast’s Lost Sounds

Class Notes: Week 4

  • Research Seminar March 8th
  • Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Readings on YouTube
  • 80% reduction principle
  • Brooks set in 1945 – why?
    – Important to read these texts in the context of 1945
  • Part of modernism is people who are making a dam and then documenting the making of the dam
  • Damian Smyth – Market Street
  • Rukeyser, William Carlos Williams (Patterson)
  • Agony over people living in poverty
    – Who is being grieved in this moment?
  • Dorothea Lange asked to talk to white people
    – How is race factoring into this?
    – Complicated moments of racial context
  • Informed consent
  • Agee article – commissioned to write this
  • These issues don’t arise with Street in Bronzeville
  • Voices of people affected by the war
  • Brooks – Kitchenette Building
    – Charts degrees of race
    – Crisis of the war in terms of race relations in America
    – Harlem renaissance
    — Race + class + gaze
    — Writing a poem at a certain place at a time and what is there & then
  • Ballad of Pearl May Lee
  • This week’s assignment – poem for a building (e.g. Kitchenette Building) or person (more examples in Brooks collection)
  • Gwendolyn Brooks did groundbreaking work within her own community
  • Ballads, sonnets, open form poems – feels like walking down a street
    – Content against the form
  • What happened to the people who were photographed?
  • Communism, art for the common man…
Class Notes: Week 4

Class Notes: Week 2

  • Whitman – naming victims to add humanity
    – Details -> close focus
  • Melodrama of Whitman’s prose
    – Sexy: Sense of desiring the bodies even in their death
  • Tones of Whitman’s poems changes after he works in a military hospital
    – diarrhoea + discharge
    – reflective
  • In theory we are all equal
    – Union Patriotism vs. Far-reaching – for all dead
    – Too much PLURALITY?
  • Repetition
    – Is it overwritten?
    – Form following function – “war is too much”
    – American bigness
  • Lists
    – What does a list do, grammatically?
    – Lists as a democratic, equalising form
  • Info point: Diagramming Sentences
  • Democracy is partly lyric
  • bivouac – “hard camping”
    – How does “By the bivouac’s fitful flame” work as a poem?
    – Private, tender moments, philosophical considerations
    – Poem of bonds + equality
    – “homosocial”
    – Juxtaposing beauty + battle
  • Sketch artist
  • How does photography influence our perception of the truth?
  • Is Whitman writing from experience or from a photo?
  • Whitman as a formal response to the idea of America
    – What does the poem do?
    – Whitman tries to make himself a metaphor for America
    — Whitman becomes a metonym
    – What does the journalism do?
    — Journalism as one of the things that “make America great”
    — Journalism as the foundation of American equality
    — Ethics question of writing about the war without fighting
    — “I can’t write the truth”
    — War in Iraq: Whitman as first embedded journalist
    — Whitman didn’t fight, but he still helped by bringing letters and supplies, green tea, searched for his brother
    – Whitman stops being a journalist, wanders around the city, produces Leaves of Grass in 1855
    — Whitman worked as a journalist for the Brooklyn Eagle
    — Explosion of the printing press in New York at this time
    — How are the journalism and the poetry relating to each other?
    — Poems -> journalistic details -> cameos, place names
    — journalistic gestures vs. poetic gestures in the collection
    — Leaves of Grass: Anonymous Review! (written by Walt Whitman)
    — DESIRE / idea of being solidified by affection
  • Apostrophe
  • What happens when you talk to a year, or to a month?
  • Assignment: Write a poem “to” a year or month etc (as in Whitman’s)
  • Romantic break ups
  • Activism? Whitman cared about open space in the middle of the city, lungs
Class Notes: Week 2

Poetry vs. Nonfiction

What are some of the main differences between poetry and standard nonfiction?

  1. the obvious:
    – form: what drives it?
    – content
    – rhythm
  2. clarity vs. ambiguity
  3. rhyme (does nonfiction rhyme?)
  4. density -> concentration
  5. purpose of information
  6. role of TRUTH (post-truth?)
  7. use of page
  8. sonic/sensual
  9. everything + nothing
  10. scope -> scale
  11. language: stability and instability / different kinds of exact
  12. time
  13. audience
  14. spectrum of difference
  15. market
  16. there’s no money in poetry 😦



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