English 237 - Fall, 2022

Seminar for Writers

Class Information

Instructor: Peterson, Katie
CRN: 52772
Time: W 12:10-3:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Later American
Focus: Genre, Method


This is a course about memorable first books of poetry in the American tradition. We will investigate what it takes to make a truly stunning and influential first book by looking at a diverse selection of first books. We will also consider what it means to break any initial silence on the page, and our inquiry will include first lines, first poems in first books, and titles.

We will begin every class with a writing exercise (poetry) inspired by the book assigned for that week. Other than this, our work in this class will focus on critical writing, and all students will be asked to write at least twenty pages of critical prose during the term (length and due dates TBA. Classroom discussions will focus on issues of style and composition. How do these memorable first books establish a footprint in American poetic style? What are key aspects of their influential styles? What questions are they asking about what came before, what wisdom do they have to offer us, living in their legacy? We will also talk about how first books are constructed, which poems are placed first, whether sections matter, etc.- questions pertinent to any thesis writer of any genre

List of books here is partial still - will update later this summer, will offer some PDFS as well.


50 % writing
50 % class participation


Dancing in Odessa, Ilya Kaminsky
A Street in Bronzeville, Gwendolyn Brooks
Too Bright to See , Linda Gregg
Field Guide , Robert Hass
Whereas, Layli Longsoldier
Dictee , Theresa Hak Yung Cha
Crush , Richard Siken