The Poem's Intention

This course and its inquiry are based on the premise that a poem asserts its own emotional, thematic, and narrative intention, distinct from its author’s (poet’s) intention.

In making the distinction between the writer’s intention and the poem’s intention, writers acquire the benefit of awareness of their artistic creations as energy and impulse that arises out of, but has an independent expressive life from, them. That awareness promotes new strategies for composing and revising poems, including how to do the following:

  • Be loyal to the poem, rather than life-event facts
  • Make intentional, disciplined decisions during revision
  • Read all styles of poetry with interest, sympathy, and imagination
  • Be unbound by previous definitions of poetry

Course inquiry will form around such questions as the following:

  • How does the poem want to make meaning?
  • What discoveries, confessions, revelations, etc. does the poem want to convey?
  • What technical or formal support will facilitate the poem’s voyage of discovery?

Students are invited to leave behind their preconceptions about what a poem can be, and are encouraged to bring their curiosity, enthusiasm, open-mindedness, and playfulness to class.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - Jami Macarty $567.00 12 -

Course schedule: Classes run online from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Instructional hours: 24

Writing experience

To get the most out of this advanced course, you should: 

  • have completed at least one poetry course (The Poem’s Intention is a good fit for writers who are post-TWS certificate, or post MFA)
  • be at serious work-play on individual poems or a series
  • be at serious work-play on a chapbook or full-length collection of poems
  • want to deepen your conversation about poetry
  • wish to deepen your intimacy with your own poems

What will you learn?

By the end of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Distinguish between the poem’s intention and the writer’s intention
  • Define emotional, thematic and narrative characteristics in a poem
  • Articulate how a poem’s characteristics contribute to its intention
  • Understand and evaluate a poem’s relationship to the reader
  • Draw from diverse strategies and techniques to re-see poems
  • Incorporate experimentation into the revision process
  • Write and develop poem series and sequences
  • Bring poems to more complete, satisfying, engaging and publishable forms

How will you learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussions
  • In-class exercises
  • Independent assignments
  • Reading
  • By discovering and following your emergent interests

How will you be evaluated?

Your grade will be based on the level of commitment you demonstrate to your class participation and writing assignments.

Textbooks and learning materials

We will provide custom course materials.

Related program(s)

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