Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


English 341. Public Poetry, Private Poetry

Is rap poetry? Do poetry slams encourage "bad" poets? We will look at questions like these in order to examine two competing ideas about poetry's role in the contemporary world. Is poetry the last refuge of the individual in a world dominated by corporations, as poet Robert Pinsky argues? Or can poetry be the effective vehicle for public culture, as when Maya Angelou read her poetry at Clinton's presidential inauguration? Poets will usually include established writers like Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich, Rita Dove, Joy Harjo and Yusef Komunyakaa and newer names like the gay, Cuban American poet Rafael Campo and slammers such as Willie Perdomo and Tracie Smith.