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Ten Premodern Poems by Women

Enrollment is Closed

About This Course

In this course, we will read ten significant premodern poems by women. We have chosen each poem to give you a sense of its structure as a poem and its importance as a form in its time. This course also reveals the roots each poem has in history, in slavery, in conventional thought and unorthodox opinion. Through the introductions to the poems, forum discussions with your fellow participants, and talks by Professor Boland and practicing poets and scholars, we will learn about how poets have fashioned life experience into verse, how to discuss poetry, and what poetry means for each of us today.

This course is offered for anyone with an interest in poetry--no background or prior education in the subject is required. You are welcome to join the course simply to explore the resources and participate in discussions about the poems. Each week we will explore one poem as it emerged from a poet's life and place in history, and a contemporary poet from Stanford's Creative Writing program will discuss the significance of the week's poem to us today.

For those wishing to earn Statements of Accomplishment, each week you will write a short piece for peer review. Estimated time commitment is 1-3 hours per week.

We look forward to welcoming you to the course!


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Professor Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland is the Bella Mabury and Eloise Mabury Knapp Professor in Humanities at Stanford and Melvin and Bill Lane Professor for Director of Creative Writing. She has published ten volumes of poetry, the most recent being A Woman Without A Country (2014) as well as New Collected Poems (2008) and Domestic Violence (2007) and An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-87 (1996) with W.W. Norton. She has received the Lannan Award for Poetry and an American Ireland Fund Literary Award. She has published two volumes of prose: Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time and A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet which won a 2012 PEN Award for creative nonfiction. She has co-edited the Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms with Mark Strand and the Norton Anthology of the Sonnet with Edward Hirsch. She teaches a seminar in women poets at Stanford and has always had a keen sense of the vitality and importance of poems by women in the poetic tradition and its history.

Guest Speakers from the Stanford Creative Writing Program

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Ari Banias

Ari Banias, a current Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry, is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His first collection of poems is forthcoming from W.W. Norton in 2016.

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Kai Carlson-Wee

Kai Carlson-Wee grew up on the Minnesota prairie. He received a BA in English from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work has appeared in journals such as Narrative, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, and The Missouri Review, which selected a group of his poems for the 2013 Jeffery E. Smith Editor’s Prize. He is currently a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford.

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Allison Davis

Allison Davis is the author of Poppy Seeds (2013). She is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she is completing a book about her family's trucking motel.

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Maria Hummel

Maria Hummel is the author of the poetry collection House and Fire, winner of the 2013 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, and two novels: Motherland (Counterpoint, 2014) and Wilderness Run (St. Martin’s, 2003). Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Narrative, The Sun, The New York Times, and the centenary anthology The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine.


Matthew Moser Miller

Matthew Moser Miller is a born-and-raised Ohioan. He holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, and his recent work appears in The Journal, Mid-American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford.

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Rosalie Moffett

Rosalie Moffett is the winner of the "Discovery"/Boston Review poetry prize and the Ploughshares' Emerging Writer prize. Her work has appeared AGNI, The Believer, FIELD, Tin House, and the anthology Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets, among others. She is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry.

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Solmaz Sharif

Solmaz Sharif's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, and others. Her work has been recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, scholarships from NYU and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a winter fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an NEA fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship. She has most recently been selected to receive a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award as well as a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship.

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Dr. Michael Shewmaker

Michael Shewmaker is a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. Born in Texarkana, Texas, he earned an MFA from McNeese State University and a PhD from Texas Tech University. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Yale Review, Oxford American, New Criterion, Narrative, Measure, Hopkins Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Columbia, and other literary journals and anthologies.

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Corey Van Landingham

Corey Van Landingham is a Wallace Stegner Poetry Fellow at Stanford University, and the author of Antidote, winner of the 2012 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, The Best American Poetry 2014, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

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Greg Wrenn

Greg Wrenn is the author of Centaur, which was awarded the Brittingham Prize in Poetry. His poems and essays have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2014, The American Poetry Review, AGNI, Kenyon Review, The New Republic, and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a book of linked lyrical essays about coral reefs and human destiny. A former Stegner Fellow, he is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.

Course Staff

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Stephanie DePaula

Stephanie DePaula is a Research Assistant for Ten Poems. She has a soft spot for Southern Gothic novels, but would like to live inside a Gene Kelly musical. Stephanie lives by the sea with her two plucky pups and is sort of pursuing her Masters in English at Stanford.

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Dr. Irena Yamboliev

Irena Yamboliev is Research Assistant for the course. Irena works on the intersection of literary prose style and nonverbal art objects in British literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More broadly, she is interested in color and its history and theory, Decadence, the literature of love, and computational approaches to text analysis. She received her PhD in English from Stanford in January 2015.

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Mary Kim

Mary Kim is Teaching Assistant for the course. She is a 4th-year doctoral student in English at Stanford who studies 20th century poetics and the intellectual histories of formalist criticism. Her favorite poets include Wallace Stevens, Philip Larkin, and Marianne Moore.

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Dr. Chloe Portugeis

Chloe Portugeis is Research Assistant for Ten Poems. She earned her PhD in Art History from Yale University in December 2013. Her scholarly interests include the Pre-Raphaelites and the Victorian mythological imagination.

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Dr. Kenneth Ligda

Kenny Ligda is the Project Manager and Course Lead. A scholar of twentieth-century literature, Kenny holds a doctorate in English literature, and is the Academic Technology Specialist for the Stanford English Department.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to buy a textbook?

No, all texts will be provided through the course platform.

Who is this class for?

This class is for anyone and everyone intrigued by poetry, the lives of poets, or history. No educational background is required--only an interest in the topic. Particular forums in the course provide a venue for educators to discuss the teaching of poetry.

Are there prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for this course.