ENGLISH 424 - Advanced Poetry Writing
Fall 2021, Section 001 - Chasing the Utopian Turtletop
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


At the end of 1955, Marianne Moore submitted her 43rd and final proposal to the Ford Motor Company, which had asked her help in arriving at a name for its new series of cars. Her magnificent, un-Edsel-like idea: Utopian Turtletop. (Moore had written earlier that she felt “complimented to be recruited in this high matter,” and that she would confer with her brother, who would “bring ardor and imagination to bear on the quest.”) After Moore’s final proposal, Ford sent her a floral arrangement of roses, white pine, and spiral eucalyptus. The accompanying card read, “TO OUR FAVORITE TURTLETOPPER.”

Now it’s sixty-plus years later, but the stakes remain the same. My hope is that we’ll spend the semester chasing down the thing within ourselves that makes us distinctive as writers. It’s difficult to imagine a poet other than Moore coming up with Utopian Turtletop—or, for that matter, Mongoose Civique and The Intelligent Bullet, two of Moore’s other proposals. By 1955, Moore had spent four decades cultivating her sense of sound and imagery; we’ll have only three months. But that should be enough time to get us started (or further along) on what really, for writers, is a lifelong quest—a quest that requires dedication, curiosity, and, not least, ardor and imagination. In his introduction to Moore’s Selected Poems (1935), T. S. Eliot wrote, “Miss Moore is, I believe, one of those few who have done the language some service in my lifetime.” Perhaps that should be our aim: not acclaim, not the settling of accounts, but doing the language some service.

Texts will include The Best American Poetry 2021, several recently published poetry and essay collections, and a course packet.

Note: Students who are declared creative-writing minors or English sub-concentrators will receive alternative enrollment instructions in an email before registration begins. Creative-writing minors and English sub-concentrators are not required to submit a writing sample for review.

To enroll in this course, students who are not creative writing minors or subconcentrators need to:

1. Submit a writing sample. Writing samples are generally between 5-15 pages of original relevant work (short stories, excerpts, poems) and should be submitted directly to the instructor of each section. For priority consideration, writing samples should be submitted no later than 5pm on Monday, April 5, 2021. Students should receive notification of their acceptance (or not) no later than Monday, April 12, 2021. Students may still submit writing samples after the priority deadline until seats are full.

2. Students are encouraged to consider a second-choice section (where applicable) as a potential back-up. Please email your second instructor of choice, if you are denied your first choice.

Course Requirements:

Course Requirements: We’ll treat this workshop as a workshop, by which I mean we’ll try out different tools, different methods, for advancing our craft. We’ll memorize and recite poems; we’ll imitate the works of others; we’ll practice (like a carpenter with her sander, an artist with his sketchpad, a clarinetist with her scales). We’ll usually write two pieces a week: one springing from a prompt, one from someplace else. (The muse? The pineal gland?) And we’ll prioritize, in our discussions, the process over the finished product. (Paul Valéry: “A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.”)

Intended Audience:

Intended Audience: Students who have completed English 324 (Creative Writing: Poetry), the prerequisite for English 424.

Class Format:

Class Format: Workshop and discussion.


ENGLISH 424 - Advanced Poetry Writing
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
Tu 4:00PM - 7:00PM

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