IA-0270: Poetry and Political Imagination

In his introduction to Poetry Like Bread, Martn Espada writes, "Poetry of the political imagination is a matter of both vision and language. Any progressive social change must be imagined first, and that vision must find its most eloquent possible expression to move from vision to reality. Any oppressive social condition, before it can change, must be named and condemned in words that persuade by stirring the emotions, awakening the senses. Thus the need for the political imagination." In this course, we will study aspects of the relationship between poetry & the political landscapes of the 20th & 21st centuries. We will read essays, poems, letters, & manifestos by a wide assortment of writers including: Bhanu Kapil, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Pablo Neruda, Harold Bloom, Roque Dalton, Wallace Stevens, Nguyen Duy, Anna Akhmatova, Carolyn Forch, & Mahmoud Darwish. Their words will guide us into a deeper investigation of the historical & potential effects of poetry in relation to perspective & social change. Over the course of the semester, students will be expected to write five 2-3 page response papers, memorize and recite a poem, conduct an oral presentation on an aspect of poetry & the political imagination, & participate in creative writing experiments & workshops that will help us explode, construct, & re-explode our notions of the political poem.