The Body Electric: Pleasure & Pain in Poetry
Whitman celebrated and sang the body and all its atoms. Woolf asked why, if illness is so common and the spirit so changed, it didn’t take its place among the major themes of literature. In this class we will look at poems about the body and its changes, its aging, its pleasures, and its struggles. Each week we will read poems by poets such as Marianne Boruch, Franny Choi, Ilya Kaminsky, Donika Kelly, Paige Lewis, and Ross Gay, and discuss the myriad of ways the body arrives on the page. We will consider questions such as: how does the form of the poem reflect the body? What is the body’s vocabulary for joy? How do we express pain’s unsayables? We will generate new work each week and work to translate the experiences of our bodies into lines of poetry.
LIVE ELEMENTS: Students can join an optional welcome session on the first day of class, held on Zoom.
During the final week of class, students will have the option to participate in a virtual reading, held on Zoom.
Traci Brimhall is the author of Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon, 2020), Saudade (Copper Canyon, 2017), Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, 2012), and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Poetry, The Believer, The New Republic, New York Times Magazine, and Best American Poetry. A 2013 NEA Fellow, she is a Professor of Creative Writing at Kansas State University.