Spring 2019

Writing Poetry II–Poetry as Activism

Listed in: English, as ENGL-324

Formerly listed as: ENGL-22  |  ENGL-27


Shayla I. Lawson (Section 01)


“Who can give / an account of occasions // ... undo the work of a million years” – Simone White.  For those of us touched by language, there is, perhaps, no greater form of satisfaction than finding the right word at the right time to elevate our state of consciousness.  We have witnessed poetry take a front seat in conversations surrounding our current social landscape:  Warsan Shire’s on Beyonce’s Lemonade, Instagram poets like nayirrah waheed and Rupi Kaur.

But can poetry take the form of activism?  What work is answering the call toward more dynamic, vulnerable, and demanding literary voices?

In this course, we will build on the elements of prosody explored in Writing Poetry I through a careful study of writers who use craft (the line, the stanza, free verse, the metric foot) to recount riots, incite empathy, and break barriers.  We will also write our own poems with an eye toward speaking our truths:  culturally, sonically, and thoughtfully.

Requisite:  ENGL 221, Writing Poetry I.  Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 12 students.  Preregistration is not allowed. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course.  Spring semester.  Writer-in-Residence Lawson.

If Overenrolled: The instructor will choose from among the applicants on the basis of a writing sample. The instructor will choose students with a lively engagement with literary language and a wide variety of life experience.


Artistic Practice, Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Community Based Learning


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2024