Poetry Daily

English 423 Schedule, Fall 2013


Last updated: December 28, 2013

Immediately after each date below, you'll find instructions and reading assignments due for that day's class session.  

Our texts are:

Story Matters, ed. Baxter

The Art of Subtext, Baxter

The Art of Recklessness, Young

The Art of Description, Doty

Sounds of Poetry, Pinsky

You should also be reading self-selections from our texts throughout the term, finding work that appeals to you or moves you, that you find challenging or curious, and that you'd like to discuss in class. You are free at any time to suggest your selections to me for our schedule.

Attendance, active participation, and attention to reading assignments are vital to a workshop course. It is also crucial that you pay careful attention to and stay aware of updates, as our schedule is flexible and will be adjusted as we progress through the term, based on the kind and frequency of workshop material the class is producing. If you miss a class, please follow instructions detailed on our Homepage. (You're expected to be prepared for each class meeting, whether you missed the previous one or not.) If you ever have questions, don't hesitate to contact me:  Cindy Nichols. It's important to remember too that missing a one-day per-week class is the equivalent of missing a week's worth of the course.

Aug. 29—                          


Course introduction.

Round-circle ice breaker.

Rank lyrics.

"Staging" a one-paragraph scene. Post a couple paragraphs to The Pub.


Sept. 5—

Before Class

  • Study our Homepage and all course policies very carefully.
  • In Story Matters :
    • Read "The Cures for Love" and "A Conversation with Charles Baxter," pp. 109-128.
  • In Art of Subtext , read pp. 3-61: "Introduction," "The Art of Staging," and "Digging the Subterranean."
  • Be reading all of the first section of Story Matters on the craft of fiction. Have it completed by Oct. 1.

In Class

  • If you have a laptop, please bring it to class!
  • Discuss Baxter's notions of "subtext" and "staging" a scene.
  • Look at sample scenes written last week. Revise using Baxter's ideas.
  • Workshop.

Sept. 12—

Before Class

  • Submit any creative material to our Blackboard Pub which you'd like to have workshopped. Remember to email the class as well, with your work attached as a Word document. Do this no later than TUESDAY NIGHT.
  • Complete a fresh draft of scene-writing exercise we began on the 5th, and post it to Bb/The Pub/Daily Work/Making a Scene. You want to write a scene--any scene--which employs "subtext" and/or is "staged" in the way Baxter describes. Provide details which evoke and imply turbulent emotional and psychological undercurrents.

In Class

  • Continue work with The Art of Subtext: "Digging the Subterranean," pp. 33-61. Identify practical tips implied throughout Baxter's chapter.
  • Leave early for Alexie reading.

Sept. 19 —

Before Class

In Class

    • Discuss 5 tips extracted from Baxter.
    • Discuss "Cures for Love" (finally), and the ways in which Baxter actually performs his critical ideas in "Cures for Love." Also look at "hyper-detailing" in the story.
    • Workshop.


Sept. 26—

Before Class

In Story Matters:

      • Read “After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Was Drowned” and "A Conversation with Dave Eggers," pp. 177-193.
      • Don't forget to be reading the whole first segment of Story Matters (on craft of fiction).

In Class

  • Discuss scores to-date.
  • Discuss Eggers story.
  • Assignment for final version of scenes created on first day, using the "Creating a Scene" chapter in Baxter for next week.

Oct. 10—

Before Class

  • Write!
  • Finish reading, in Story Matters, the whole first segment (on the craft of fiction) if you haven't already.

In Class

  • Preview readings for the 17th.
  • Quiz on the first part of Story Matters.
  • Quick look at PPT on fiction basics. Review "reading as a writer."
  • Final thoughts on Eggers story: relationship between nuts & bolts and "subtext." Also: "fiction as defamiliarization."
  • In Story Matters, read Amy Hempel, "Going," pp. 220-231.
  • Look at two one-sentence stories (Hempel and Hemingway).
  • Workshop.


Oct. 17 —

Before Class

  • In Story Matters, read “A Temporary Matter” and "A Conversation with Jhumpa Lahiri," pp. 287-306.
  • In The Art of Subtext, read "Unheard Melodies," pp. 63-87.
  • In The Art of Description, read "World Unto Word" and "A Tremendous Fish," pp. 3-31, plus a segment of "Remembered Stars," pp. 33-42.

In Class

  • Groups present on Amy Hempel.
  • Maybe get to Sounds of Silence exercise.
  • Maybe workshop a bit.
Leave early for Sena Jeter Naslund reading in Barry Hall, 7pm.


Oct. 24—

Before Class

  • In The Art of Recklessness, read pp. 3-56.
  • Read Dean Young. Print out this material, if you can, or have it available on a laptop in class.

In Class

  • Finish up discussion of fiction.
  • The Sounds of Silence and the art of attention.
  • Begin work with poetry.

Oct. 31—

Before Class

  • Review work by Dean Young (pp. 3-56).

In Class

  • Discuss Young's poetry and prose.
  • Workshop.

Nov. 7—


Before Class

In Class


Nov. 14—

Before Class

  • Doty, The Art of Description, pp. 3-31 (the first two parts).
  • Browse Bishop poems.

In Class

  • Discuss Doty and Bishop.
  • Writers' resources, conferences, publishing: The Writer's Link.
  • Intensive workshopping.

Nov. 21—


Nov. 28—Holiday

Dec. 5—

Intensive workshopping and compiling for chapbooks.

Dec. 12—

Intensive workshopping.


Dec. 20th—

All final course materials due no later than 11:59 pm: chapbooks, community event reports, reflective letter.

Chapbooks, event reports, and reflective letter may be handed in electronically. Go to Bb/The Pub.

These materials may also be handed in hardcopy. Simply place them in my Minard 318 mailbox. If you want any of these items returned, you MUST ENCLOSE THEM IN A SELF-ADDRESSED AND SELF-STAMPED ENVELOPE. Items that do not include the envelope will be discarded at the end of finals week.


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