Fall 2017  MFA Course Descriptions


ENG 751-01(31462) Thurs 6:40pm -8:30pm, KY 173: Weir


ENG 753-01(31465) Wed 6:40pm -8:30pm, KY 148: Cooley

MFA Poetry Workshop: First Books

In this poetry workshop, we will read a range of recent first books of poems as we workshop our own poems, exploring what we can learn from some of the most inventive and startling debut collections of the past several years.  We will discuss the intersection of current poetry with critical race theory, disability studies, and new work on gender and sexuality.  We will investigate how these debut books are in conversation with contemporary political and social issues and how they are inflected by the theoretical genealogies of contemporary poetry.  In addition, we will also focus on a variety of formal issues raised by these collections, such as book structure and architecture, juxtaposition, arrangement, notes, epigraphs, citations. And finally we will talk about the world of poetry publication and how first books come into print.

Possible texts for the course include Danez Smith, [insert] boy; francie j harris, play dead; Layli Long Soldier, Whereas; Molly McCully Brown, The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded; Eduardo Corral, Slow Lightning; Rajiv Mohabir, The Taxidermist’s Cut; Solmaz Sharif, Look; Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec.

Open Only to Students Enrolled in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation.


ENG 755-01(31467) Wed 6:40pm -8:30pm, KY 416: Schotter


ENG 757-01(31468) Tues 6:40pm -8:30pm, KY 416: Alcalay

Translation Workshop

The translation of a literary text cannot be separated out from other concepts of translation writ-large. We are already translating machines: our senses, however abled, constantly process data to move through space, absorb emotion, and respond to things that happen to us. Translation from one language to another is simply a more clearly defined instance of this human condition, but one that immediately exposes historical, geographical, and political differences. Like writers, translators bear cultural memory and create knowledge, while being inextricably enmeshed in the political position their language finds itself in. While reading and thinking about a variety of translations, including our own, we will work toward conceptualizing a poetics: how writing works, what effects it has on us, what are the implicit politics of form, who is the audience (if anyone), how is cultural memory created and destroyed, and how might exposure to the widest possible range of disciplinary sources allow our work to participate in the world in more unexpected ways. The title of an Ed Dorn poem, “The Cosmology of Finding Your Spot,” could be an apt and succinct way of stating the aim of our work. We will also investigate the sources of American and English prosody and prose rhythm, in order to expand the repertoire available to us as we write while translating. Each student, in collaboration with each other and myself, will aim to create a pool of resources that will, hopefully, become part of a lifelong pursuit in exploration and thought, the creation of a singular poetics and politics. Readings will range far and wide and may include the following:

Raymond W. Baker, Tareq Y. Ismael, Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned, and Academics Murdered

Emile Benveniste, Dictionary of Indo-European Concepts and Society

Josephine Miles, The Continuity of Poetic Language

Steven Mithen, The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind & Body

Charles Olson, The Mayan Letters

Jack Spicer’s Beuwulf

This course is open only to students enrolled in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation.


ENG 758-01(31471) Mon 6:40pm -8:30pm, KY 416: Sedarat

As the first semester of the MFA thesis sequence, this course immerses literary translators and writers of different genres into the revision process. Workshops requiring critical responses to group questions modeled on a thesis defense, along with intensive facilitator and small group feedback, provoke a sustained re-envisioning of both culminating creative writing projects as well as process essays throughout the term. To encourage more radical interventions into existing theses, peers also propose several low-stakes exercises deemed specifically beneficial to the writers’ bi-monthly submissions. Weekly creative and theoretical readings on the theme of influence further encourage participants to more closely revise and interrogate texts on their respective thesis reading lists.

This course is open only to students in the MFA program graduating in Spring 2018.


ENG 760-01(31470) Mon 6:40pm -8:30pm, KP 333: Staff

Please check back for a description of this course.