Spring 2023 - ENGL 372 D100

Creative Writing I: Poetry (4)

Where Do Poems...

Class Number: 4281

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Wed, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Fri, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    30 units; or two 200-division English courses; or formal declaration in the creative writing minor and ENGL 272.



A seminar-workshop in the theory and practice of creative writing with specific emphasis on poetry.


Where do poems come from?

In this course we will read and write poetry with an eye to expanding our understanding of the expressive and intellectual possibilities of the medium while honing our craft as poets. Since poems don’t grow on trees (though that would be nice), we will explore a range of potential “sources” poets turn to for their poetry, including memory and experience, place and locality, reading and research, imagining other lives (and how not to appropriate them), and of course Big Feels (and how to survive them). Our hunt for the sources of poetry will be accompanied by explorations of a range of techniques and practices—with models taken from poems provided by the instructor and discovered by students—including: narrative, image and imagery, voice and tone, diction and “texture,” etc. 


Students will expand their understanding of the expressive and intellectual possibilities of poetry while honing their craft as poets.


  • participation and short presentations 20%
  • Reading journal 20%
  • Workshop poems 30%
  • Final portfolio 30%


Participation and short presentations:

I am expecting that everyone will come to class having read the week’s material (whether assigned readings or the workshop poems of your fellow students) and with something to say. The basis of the workshop is respectful and constructive peer feedback: think carefully about your fellow students’ poems, and in class, after a student has presented their poem for workshop, please be ready to offer your polite and helpful comments.

You should be reading as much poetry as you can get your hands on. Sources for contemporary poetry will be provided; at least twice in the semester, each student will present a poem they have discovered to the class, reading it aloud and sharing their thoughts on the techniques employed and the compositional choices the poet in question has made.

Reading journal:                                              

Students will keep a reading journal, comprised of at least five approximately 250-word entries on poems from the reading list provided by the instructor. Journal entries are intended to be reading notes (rather than mini essays) as students think through and reflect upon the poem in question’s poetics—the how and why of the ways the poem is written.

Workshop poems:                                         

Students will compose and submit six poems for workshop during the course. Writing prompts will be provided for each workshop. Poems are shared via the class email list, by the Monday before our Wednesday class time, on weeks we are workshopping.

Final portfolio:                                                

The final portfolio will comprise 12-15 pages of poetry. It can include revised poems previously submitted for workshop, but at least half of the portfolio should be work not previously workshopped.



Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html