Poetry and Public Life

Faculty Instructor: Nate Mickelson
Artist: Carlos iro Burgos
ENGL 215, Topics in Literature
Guttman Community College

About the Project

The project engages poetry to examine local, national, and global events. In addition to providing an introduction to poetic form and theory, this course requires students to write poems and develop a project to engage public audiences in thinking of some kind.

With the understanding that the course will culminate with a public action, the classroom will serve as a testing ground not only for the materials that will be made public but for the feelings that come with making art public. Given this, we will work to create an environment that experiments with authenticity, discomfort, and vulnerability through exercises that require students to make their poetry public. There will be structured activities to engage students in the research process that artists undergo when creating work for public spaces – to send a message or to convince – without the assumption that students come ready with issues that they feel passionate about. Students will also investigate the ways that poets have practiced public facing work over time and today, while developing a vocabulary to both understand and analyze the various poetic devices at play in their poetry.

Some concerns we will be exploring: how do we create something that exists beyond the course; how do we think about new identities that may be created during the course and continue beyond it. We are working towards better understanding our definition of poetry for the course and how that definition will both be within our grasp and inclusive of work that is outside of the English academic canon.