Seamus Heaney says that one of his own constant themes is that poetry must be an answer to a question and that “the poet must give the answer in the specific language of poetry, rather than in the language of the world that provoked the question.”
In this course, we will aim to experience the pleasure and surprise of poetry by reading poems aloud and searching together for the poets’ questions. We will also ask our own questions, such as why poetry, more than any other medium, provokes delight and contempt in equal measure? How does poetry succeed in expressing the desire to transcend the finite and the historical? What impulse moves poets to engage in the impossible task of expressing the inexpressible?
Each week we will focus on a particular poet, among them: Seamus Heaney, Mary Oliver, Tony Hoagland, Ben Lerner, Emily Dickinson, WH Auden, William Blake, Anne Carson, and Walt Whitman.