ENGLISH 240 - Introduction to Poetry
Section: 001 The Jaws that Bite, the Claws that Catch!
Term: WN 2018
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Asked to give a definition of poetry, Robert Frost replied, “Poetry is the kind of thing poets write.” We’ll see if we can expand upon that definition just a bit. We’ll read a great deal of poetry (spanning 2,700 years and several continents), and we’ll discuss the specific qualities — of tone, of music, of imagery — that make some poems worth rereading (and rereading, and rereading). We’ll look at forms ranging from the sonnet to the villanelle to the double abecedarian. Along the way we’ll try to get a sense of the imaginative possibilities open to poets, both today and in the past. We’ll find Perry Mason characters facing off in sestinas. We’ll see “The Waste Land” refashioned as a series of limericks. We’ll read poems supposedly scribbled on Wendy’s customer comment cards. At all times, we’ll keep John Berryman’s aim in mind: “to write so good . . . the trolls of language will scream & come over to [our] side.”

Texts will include several anthologies and essay collections, plus a course packet.

Course Requirements:

Assignments will include class reflections (twice a week), memorizations, explications, imitations, competitive forgeries, a midterm exam, and a final paper.

Intended Audience:

Students interested in learning more about — and actively engaging with — poetry.

Class Format:


ENGLISH 240 - Introduction to Poetry
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

No e-book editions, please (for reasons I'll explain during our first class).
ISBN: 9780684824383
Making Your Own Days The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry., Author: Kenneth Koch., Publisher: Touchstone 1st Touchs 1998
ISBN: 0571225837
The rattle bag, Author: ed. by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes., Publisher: Faber and Faber 3. [print. 2007
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for ENGLISH 240 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)