Isobel Armstrong and Bob Perelman to Teach Graduate Courses on Poetry in Princeton’s English Department this Fall

image_previewIsobel Armstrong is the author of  Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination, The Radical Aesthetic, Women’s Poetry, Late Romantic to Late Victorian: Gender and Genre, and Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Politics and Poetics. She is an internationally renowned critic of nineteenth-century poetry, literature, and women’s writing, Emeritus Professor of English at Birkbeck, University of London, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies at the University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy.


Perelman cropped Bob Perelman, Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, has published over 15 volumes of poetry, most recently The Future of Memory (Roof Books) and Ten to One: Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press). His critical work focuses on poetry and modernism. His critical books are The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History (Princeton University Press) and The Trouble with Genius: Reading Pound, Joyce, Stein, and Zukofsky (University of California Press). He has edited Writing/Talks (Southern Illinois University Press), a collection of talks by poets.

It is with great excitement that we welcome Isobel Armstrong and Bob Perelman into Princeton’s English Department for the upcoming fall semester. Professors Armstrong and Perelman will be teaching the following courses:

Special Studies in the 19th Century: Poetry: From Phantasmagoria to Photography (ENG 553)

Isobel Mair Armstrong

This course is about the poetics of the lens and the mirror and their immanent presence in Romantic and Victorian poetry by men and women. The optical culture created by lens-made technologies developed from the late Enlightenment onwards saw the “high” science of the telescope and the microscope migrate to the popular screen images of the phantasmagoria, diorama, panorama, kaleidoscope and a host of optical toys exploiting visual ambiguities. Technologies of the lens and the mirror, from the phantasmagoria to photography, from astronomy to the magic lantern, had repercussions across aesthetics and politics. (Tuesdays 9:00 AM – 11:50 AM)

Course Details

Poetics: Modernist Poetics and its Discontents (ENG 563)

Robert Perelman

The disjunction between the poetics and the poetry of the modernist period is striking. The poetics–as articulated in statements by Pound, Stein, Eliot, Williams, Zukofsky, Olson–are fascinating, but they make equivocal guides to the writing itself. Stein’s lecture on <I>Tender Buttons</I> sheds only anecdotal light on that recalcitrant text; Zukofsky’s terse essays on poetry are of little help in reading the linguistic exuberance of his poetry; etc. We read, via exemplary excerpts, both sides of these improbable equations. (Wednesdays 9:00 AM – 11:50 AM).

Course Details

For a listing of this fall’s course offerings in poetry across university departments, please see our current course offerings page.

Marie Howe at Princeton this Spring, Teaching Advanced Poetry at the Lewis Center



Last Fall, Marie Howe delivered a beautiful and thought-provoking Holmes Lecture at Princeton, entitled “No Not Nothing Never: Interruption, Contradiction and Negation as a Way To Push Open the Door You Didn’t Know Was There,” a video recording of which can be viewed here.

This Spring, Princeton undergraduates are working with Marie Howe in her advanced poetry workshop in the Creative Writing Program at The Lewis Center.


Marie Howe is the 2012-2014 Poet Laureate of New York State and an award-winning author of three volumes of poetry. Her most recent book, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2009) was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her other collections of poetry include What the Living Do (1998), which was praised by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the five best poetry collections of the year, and The Good Thief (Persea, 1988), which was selected by Margaret Atwood for the 1987 National Poetry Series. She was also awarded the 2015 Academy of American Poets Fellowship. Her other awards include grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Bunting Institute, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Howe has taught writing at Tufts University and Dartmouth College and is currently teaching at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Columbia University.

Claudia Rankine at Princeton this Wednesday, February 10th!


Award-winning poet/critic Claudia Rankine reads from her work on Wednesday, February 10, at 4:30 p.m. in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center. After the reading, Tracy K. Smith, director of the Program in Creative Writing, will join Claudia Rankine for an onstage conversation. The event, part of the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, is free and open to the public.

Rachel Zucker to deliver Bagley Wright Poetry Lecture on “The Confessional” at Princeton February 3rd!





“What We Talk About When We Talk About The Confessional and What We SHOULD Be Talking About”

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
4:30 p.m.
Hinds Library, McCosh Hall
Reception in the Thorp Library to follow talk.

Rachel Zucker is the author of nine books, most recently, The Pedestrians (Wave Books, 2014), a double collection of poetry and prose and a memoir, MOTHERs (Counterpath Press, 2014). Zucker’s 2009 collection, Museum of Accidents, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Zucker was a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts fellow. She lives in New York with her husband and their three sons and teaches at New York University.

About the Bagley Wright Lecture Series on Poetry

The Bagley Wright Lecture Series on Poetry is a nonprofit that provides leading poets with the opportunity to explore in-depth their own thinking on the subject of poetry and poetics, and through financial and logistical support, to arrange for the delivery of several lectures that result from these investigations. Charlie Wright, Publisher of Wave Books, established the BWLS in memory of his late father, the businessman and philanthropist Bagley Wright. The Series is spearheaded by Charlie Wright and Wave Books editor Matthew Zapruder. Lectures are delivered publicly in partnership with institutions nationwide.

Spring 2016 Course Offerings in Poetry!

We have much to look forward to in the upcoming semester’s exciting variety of course offerings in poetry across departments!


Homer (CLG 108)

Joshua D. Fincher

To learn to read Homer with pleasure. Introduction to Homeric dialect, oral poetry, and meter; discussion of literary technique, historical background to the epics, and Homer’s role in the development of Greek thought.

Creative Writing: Poetry (CWR 202)

Michael Dickman, Meghan O’Rourke, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Monica Youn

Practice in the original composition of poetry supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Criticism by practicing writers and talented peers encourages the student’s growth as both creator and reader of literature. This class is open to beginning and intermediate students by application.

Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry (CWR 302)

Marie Howe, Paul Muldoon

Advanced practice in the original composition of poetry for discussion in regularly scheduled workshop meetings. The curriculum allows the student to develop writing skills, provides an introduction to the possibilities of contemporary literature and offers perspective on the places of literature among the liberal arts.

Czeslaw Milosz: Poetry, Politics, History (SLA 395/ RES 395)

Irena G. Gross

Polish-American poet Czeslaw Milosz won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1980. In this seminar, which combines textual analyses, history of literature and intellectual history, we will speak on the basis of his major works (and some of his contemporaries – Seamus Heaney, Joseph Brodsky, Derek Walcott), about World War II, Polish-Russian relations, global dominance of English-language poetry, growth of high culture in the United States, and the decline of exile. (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 PM)

Dante’s Inferno (ITA 303/ MED 303)

Simone Marchesi

Intensive study of the “Inferno”, with major attention paid to poetic elements such as structure, allegory, narrative technique, and relation to earlier literature, principally the Latin classics. Course conducted in English with highly interactive classes and preceptorials. One precept in Italian will be scheduled on a need-to-be basis. (Tuesday and Thursday 11:00 AM – 12:20 PM)

Life is Short, Art is Really Short (CWR 315)

James Richardson

All literature is short – compared to our lives, anyway – but we’ll be concentrating on poetry and prose at their very shortest. The reading will include proverbs, aphorisms, greguerias, one-line poems, riddles, jokes, fragments, haiku, epigrams and microlyrics. Imagism, contemporary shortists, prose poems, various longer works assembled from small pieces, and possibly even flash fiction. Students will take away from the thrift and edge of these literary microorganisms a new sense of what can be left out of your work and new ideas about how those nebulae of pre-draft in your notebooks might condense into stars and constellations. (Thursday 1:30-4:20)

Milton (ENG 325)

Russell J. Leo

We will explore John Milton’s entire career, largely as poet, but also as prose writer and thinker: a lifelong effort to unite the aims of intellectual, political and literary experimentation. In doing so Milton made himself the most influential non-dramatic poet in the English language. We will spend much time with Paradise Lost, regarded by many as the greatest non-dramatic poem in English or any modern language; we will encounter Milton’s profound, extensive learning and his startling innovations with words, and in ideas of personal, domestic and communal liberty. (Monday and Wednesday 10:00-10:50 AM).

Vergil’s Aeneid (LAT 333)

Yelena Baraz

This course will concentrate on the role of topography and landscape in the poem. Students will be required to participate in a trip to Italy over Spring Break. (Monday and Wednesday 1:30 PM -2:50 PM)

Verse in Shows: Poetry on Stage, 405 B.C.E- 2015 A.D. (ENG 384/ THR 338)

Stuart J. Sherman

From Attic tragedies to Broadway musicals, verse forms have been central to the way theater works. Playwrights have deployed them to deliver powerful, sometimes subliminal effects to the ears of audiences well-versed in registering them. In plays ranging from Euripides’ Bakkhai through Elizabethan and Restoration theater to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, we’ll look at, and above all listen for, the intricate interactions of verse, prose, and song, trying to work out how they may have operated on their original audiences (whose ears were often in such matters more acute than ours), and how we can make sense of and savor them now. (Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-2:50 PM)

Lyric Language and Form II: The Modern Period (COM 422/ ENG 423/ GER 422/ FRE 422)

Claudia Joan Brodsky

This course is the continuation of a 2-semester sequence for undergraduates and graduate students, but may be taken independently of the fall semester course (COM 421). We will focus on reading major poets of the modern period in English, French, German and Spanish with additional readings in the theoretical reflections on modernity, poetry, and the arts written by several of the poets we read. These include: Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rilke, Celan, Garcia Lorca, Pax, Borges, Stevens, Bishop and Ashbery, among others. Secondary readings will include essays by major theorists and critics. (Monday 1:30-4:20 PM)

Classical Arabic Poetry (NES 527/ COM 508)

Lara Harb

This course introduces students to the major Arabic poets and poems from the pre-Islamic period up to and including the Mamluk period. The goal of the course is twofold: to increase the ease with which students are able to read classical Arabic poetry and to expand their knowledge of the various styles, genres and their development. Besides preparing the assigned poems, students are expected each week to put together a brief biographical sketch of the poets we are reading using primary sources exclusively. (This could be done collaboratively) Advanced knowledge of Arabic required. (Wednesday 1:30 – 4:20 PM).

French Modernist Poetry (FRE 525)

Efthymia Rentzou

This course investigates Modernist poetics in France from mid-19th to mid-20th c. and seeks to re-evaluate Modernism in French literary history. Course will treat the topic at a variety of interrelated levels by exploring French poetry as part of the broad historical phenomenon of Modernism, while examining the specific ways it materialized in France as formal innovation and as response to modernity. Seminal poets such as Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Apollinaire, and Cendrars, will be discussed as well as specific movements. Readings and theoretical questions will also address the complex relationship between avant-garde and Modernism. (In English) (Wednesday 1:30-4:30 PM)

Modern European Fiction & Poetry (COM 559/ FRE 558)

David M. Bellos

A study of 20th century writing in European languages relying to some degree on the principle of constraint or ‘strict form’. Queneau, Calvino, Mathews, Perec, Roubaud and other members of Oulipo will constitute the central focus, but depending on students’ linguistic competences works by e.g., Harig, Kharms, Nabokov, Cortazar may be included. Attention is focussed on underlying principles as well as on practice and product. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 PM)

Poetics: 19thC English and American Poetry: New Tools, New Archives (ENG 563)

Meredith Martin and Meredith McGill

Histories of 19th-C poetry are generally keyed to books and anthologies–breakthrough volumes, collected works, and influential collections. Yet a great deal of this poetry was printed in or supported by the circulation of periodicals, creating dynamic poetic cultures that were provisional, collaborative, and transatlantic. In this course we tackle head-on what the new availability of these resources means for the study of British and American poetry. How might the digitization of magazines, newspapers, and print ephemera change canonical literary histories? (Monday 1:30-4:20 PM)

The Evolution of Russian Poetic Form (SLA 512)

Michael A. Wachtel

The course serves as an introduction to Russian verse forms and genres. Considerable attention is given to translations into Russian (and conceivably out of Russian) to understand the qualities of Russian poetry that distinguish it from other European verse traditions (English, German, French, Italian). To some extent exemplary texts are chosen in conjunction with students’ linguistic competencies and interests. (Thursday 1:30-4:20 PM).

Labyrinth Books to Host a Reading in Honor of C.K. Williams on December 1st at 6 PM along with a reading by Michael Dickman of his book Green Migraine


In honor of C.K. Williams, Michael Dickman, Jeff Dolven, James Richardson, Susan Stewart, Tracy Smith, and Susan Wheeler will each read a poem from Williams’ Selected Later Poems, which appeared in September.


Michael Dickman will also read from his book Green Migraine


“My master plan is happiness,” writes Michael Dickman in his wonderfully strange third book, Green Migraine. Here, imagination and reality swirl in the juxtaposition between beauty and violence in the natural world. Drawing inspiration from the verdant poetry of John Clare, Dickman uses hyper-real, dreamlike images to encapsulate, illustrate, and illuminate how we access internal and external landscapes. The result is nothing short of a fantastic, modern-day fairy tale.
Michael Dickman teaches poetry at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. He is the author of The End of the West and Flies, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.
Tuesday, December 1st, 6 PM
Free and open to the public
Labyrinth Books
122 Nassau Street
Princeton  NJ 08542

Poet Dorianne Laux to read at Princeton’s Berlind Theater on November 18th

UnknownAcclaimed poet Dorianne Laux will read from her work on Wednesday, November 18, at 4:30 p.m. in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center. Laux, best known for her poetry book The Book of Men, has had poems included in The Best American Poetry in 1999, 2006 and 2013. The event, part of the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, is free and open to the public.


Marie Howe to deliver the 2015-16 Holmes Lecture at Princeton this Tuesday, October 27th

Marie Howe portrait

Marie Howe is the 2012-2014 Poet Laureate of New York State and an award-winning author of three volumes of poetry. Her most recent book, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008) was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Other titles include What the Living Do (1997), which was praised by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the five best poetry collections of the year, and The Good Thief (1988), selected by Margaret Atwood for the 1987 National Poetry Series. Howe also co-edited (with Michael Klein) the essay anthology In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (1994).

Having earned her M.F.A. from Columbia University in 1983, Howe was chosen by Stanley Kunitz for the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1988, with Kunitz referring to her poetry as “luminous, intense, and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life.” She was a fellow at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and the Fine Arts Work Center, and she has also been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. Howe teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, and New York University.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 4:30 PM

James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street.

This event, the 2015-16 Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes Lecture presented by the Program in Creative Writing, is free and open to the public.

Matthew Rohrer and Morgan Parker Reading on Thursday, October 22nd!

Next Thursday, two of Brooklyn’s most exciting young poets will be visiting Princeton’s English Department for a reading of their work.

Please join us for the reading in McCosh room 40 at 4:30 PM on Thursday, October 22nd (reception to follow in the Thorp Library).

The event, sponsored by Princeton’s Contemporary Poetry Colloquium, is free and open to the public.


MATTHEW ROHRER is the author of numerous highly acclaimed and much loved books of poetry, including A Hummock in the Malookas (selected by Mary Oliver for the National Poetry Series), Satellite, A Green Light (Short listed for the 2005 Griffin International Poetry Prize), Rise Up, They All Seemed Asleep, A Plate of Chicken, Destroyer and Preserver, Surrounded by Friends (published just this year by Wave Books), as well as a collaborative works, Nice Hat, Thanks, and Gentle Reader! (an erasure of Romantic era texts).

Rohrer is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and has published work in The New Young American Poets: An Anthology (2000), The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology (2000), and Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (2006). He teaches in the Creative Writing program at New York University. (selected from



MORGAN PARKER is the author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015), selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize. Her second collection, There Are More Beautiful things than Beyonce, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in February 2017. Morgan received her Bachelors in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Columbia University and her MFA in Poetry from NYU. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in numerous publications, as well as anthologized in Why I Am Not A Painter (Argos Books) and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket Books). She has done editorial work for Apogee JournalNo, Dear Magazine, and The Atlas Review Winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize and a Cave Canem graduate fellow, Morgan lives with her dog Braeburn in Brooklyn, NY. She works as an Editor for Amazon Publishing’s imprint Little A, and moonlights as poetry editor of The Offing. She also teaches Creative Writing at Columbia University and co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series with Tommy Pico. With poet and performer Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. She is a Sagittarius. (bio from