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* English Research: ENG 308: The Poem--Prof. Robinson

Use this guide as a starting point for researching literary topics.

Possible Essay Topics


Possible Essay Topics with Possible Corresponding Text Selections


Gender Identity: How do these contemporary poets (or a selection of these poets) use the prose form to raise questions gender identity and human sexuality?


Elizabeth Colen, Money for Sunsets

Carol Guess, Tinderbox Lawn

Richard Siken, Crush


Feminine Identity: How do these contemporary female poets (or a selection of these poets) use the prose form to explore the varied roles of and attitudes toward women domestically, professionally, politically, etc., from various points of view?

Nin Andrews, The Book of Orgasms

Anne Carson, Glass, Irony, and God

Denise Duhamel, The Star-Spangled Banner

Mary Ruefle, The Most of It

Allison Benis White, Self-Portrait with Crayon


Poets Experimenting in Prose: How do the following poets (or a selection of the following poets, if not a single one), most notable for their achievements in an establish career of lineated verse, use the prose form to similar and different than they typically do in their other works?


Stephen Dobyns, The Porcupine’s Kisses

Stephen Dunn, Riffs and Reciprocities

Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Lie Awake Lake

W.S. Merwin, The Book of Fables

Contemporary American Surrealism: How do the following poets (or a selection of the following poets) use the prose form as both a continuation of and a response to the poems of Charles Baudelaire and French Surrealist Prose Poetics?


8Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

Russell Edson, The Tunnel: Selected Prose Poems

Zach Schomberg, The Man Suit

James Tate, Selected Poems

Joe Wenderoth, Letters to Wendy’s

Mathias Svalina, Destruction Myth


The New York School: How do the following poets (or a single poet in this example) use the prose form as a realization of the aesthetics of the so-called “New York School”? How do(es) the poet(s) achieve the same ends in prose as modern artists did in their chosen form?


John Ashbery, Three Poems AU

John Ashbery, The Vermont Notebooks AU

Frank O’Hara, Collected Poems AU


Prose Poetry and Politics: How do the following contemporary American poets use the prose form to express political arguments, much in the way that the Polish poets did the same in the middle of the 20th century?


*Zbigniew Herbert, Collected Poems

*Czeslaw Milosz, Road-side Dog

Claudia Rankine, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

Charles Simic, The World Doesn’t End


Questions of Genre: How do the following poets (or a selection of the following poets) use the prose form to push the boundaries of poetic genre, from Lydia Davis’ so-called “flash fiction” or “short stories” to the surrealist narratives of John Gallaher’s Guidebook and the strange pathos Jeffrey Skinner’s fairy tales, among others in between?


John Bradley, You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Lydia Davis, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

John Gallaher, Guidebook

James Richardson, Vectors: Aphorisms and 10-Second Essays

Jeffrey Skinner, Salt Water Amnesia

Mathias Svalina, Destruction Myth






Essay #2-Your Assignment




DUE DATE: Beginning of class 04/20/2011 (W)

Length: 7-9 pages. MLA style.


For your second essay assignment, you will read the work of one or two American Prose poets, in order to answer the following question(s):


·         What defines the contemporary American Prose poem?

·         How does this poet (or these poets) exemplify American Prose poetry in the late 20th / early 21st centuries?

·         How do these prose poems contribute their own answers to the significant questions we asked in our class discussions of contemporary poetics?


In doing so, you are to choose two books of poetry from the attached list of prose poetry collections. You may choose, if possible, two books by the same author, or two books by two different authors; the choice is yours. You should also use the library databases to select at least two sources of literary criticism to complement your thesis. Thus, I fully expect that every essay turned in for this assignment will feature a Works Cited Page referencing at least four sources. Acquiring these books of poetry will, more than likely, require you to use OhioLINK. If you’re having trouble selecting reading material for the assignment, with regard to either the prose poetry collections or the literary criticism, please schedule a conference with me.


Also, feel free to discuss your research options/questions with the librarians at AU.


If you have any questions regarding this assignment and we don’t have time to cover such questions in class, please stop by my office during office hours or schedule a conference with me. At some point in the next three weeks we will each meet to discuss your plan for the essay. I will bring a sign-up sheet with me to class as soon as possible. 



NOTE: Your Works Cited Page does not count toward the page total of the assignment.

Additional Poetry

Additional Collections of Prose Poems:



John Ashbery, The Vermont Notebooks.

*Joel Brouwer, Centuries.

*John Bradley, You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.

Elizabeth J. Colen, Money for Sunsets.

*Stephen Dunn, Riffs and Reciprocities.

*Stephen Dobyns, The Porcupine’s Kisses

*John Gallaher, Guidebook.(?)

*Zach Schomberg, The Man Suit.

James Tate, (Many of Tate’s books are books of prose poems….Any of those would suffice.)


Databases for Literature

Databases are the most efficient way to find quality articles.

Book Database

These databases contains full-text, digitized book content.  They are a little tricky to use.  They contain only the major poets.


Galeano -- Memory of Fire Trilogy is simply titled Memory of Fire in the OhioLINK catalog.