Department of English

Roger Reeves

Associate ProfessorM.F.A, Michener Center for Writers; PhD, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin

Roger Reeves



E 386L • Creatv Writ: Wrkshp In Ptry-Wb

36330 • Spring 2021
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM
Internet; Synchronous

Graduate Workshop in Poetry

In this course, we will read, write, and critique poems. I hope to supply poems from a wide-range of poets (from Dionne Brand to Terrance Hayes, from Solmaz Sharif to Natalie Diaz, from Wallace Stevens to Louise Glück) at the beginning of the semester. The hope is not for poets in the workshop to emulate these poets as much as to digest and metabolize their work such that we can read for the lacunae and open fields their poems offer us. What possibilities do these poems articulate? Quite simply, we are reading toward poetics, gesture, ontology. After we’ve read a few things, I will ask you to bring your work to the work table. There we will give considered, measured, thoughtful critique to each other. However, we will decide the nature / methodologies of this critique. My hope for the class is that it does not get in the way of the writing of the student, but that they leave feeling as if they want to write and write and write some more.  

CRW 325P • Poetry Writing

34155 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM MEZ 1.118

CRW 325P  l  Poetry Writing


Instructor:  Reeves, R

Unique #: 34155

Semester: Fall 2019

Cross-lists: n/a


Prerequisites:  One of the following: C L 315, E 303D (or 603B), (316K,) 316L, 316M, 316N, 316P, or T C 303D (or 603B).


Description:  The Craft of Poetry and Poetry Writing –

This course will be structured in the manner of a poetry laboratory (what used to be called a workshop). However, this course will also be reading intensive in an effort to glean what we can, in terms of craft, from the masters.  The class will focus upon writing, revising, and engaging the intellectual, aesthetic, and cultural landscape that is American poetry.  We will begin with an examination of the line (long lines, short lines, medium-length lines) and weave our way through discussions of language, rhetorical and literary devices, camps / schools/ eras of poetry writing, the politics of the page, open and received forms, and even outlandish discussions of poetry’s efficacy, use, or contemporaneity.  However, these discussions will not be only loose scraps of blab.  We will experiment with these in our own work (i.e. the line, concrete language, imagery, received forms, etc.).  The experimentations will take the form of assignments as well as your own endeavors to evoke and invoke these new muses.  In this course, you will be responsible for writing poems that do not merely engage your own ideas of poetry, but instead, you will write poems that seek to further our understanding of poetry.


Texts:  Zong!, M. NourbeSe Philip; Heavenly Questions, Gjertrud Schnackenberg.


Requirements & Grading: Oh, how we rue this portion of the program.  The infamous grades—in a poetry writing class nevertheless—“how on earth will he do it,” ask the students.  Here’s how:


  • 20% of your grade comes from class participation.  Class participation is contributing to the class conversation.  In other words, if there is a discussion, you talk.
  • 80% of your grade comes from the written assignment and will be broken down as such:
    • 60% poems turned in to workshop / discuss.  Throughout the semester, we will workshop your work (poems).  You will know the week before that you will be workshopped and should prepare accordingly.  I will “grade” your poems in terms of following the prescribed guidelines I set out for each assignment.  For instance, if we are doing a unit on long lines and concrete language, and your poem has short lines and abstract language, then obviously this poem will not curry a high grade.  Understand.  Also, part of this grade is offering written feedback to your peers.  You will turn in a minimum of one paragraph to each peer whose work we are workshopping each week.  Just for your own general knowledge, a paragraph consists of a minimum of eight sentences.  You can always turn in more.  You will also turn in that same paragraph to me.  I will discuss what feedback should sound like and seek to elucidate for the writer as we get closer to workshopping.
    • 20% Final Portfolio.  Your final portfolio will consist of a minimum of six poems (a total of 10 original pages of poetry).  Not only should the portfolio contain all of the drafts in reverse chronological order (i.e. newest draft of the poem on top and so on), but you should also write a three- to five-page craft essay on how your work has developed and changed over the semester in regards to the readings, the critiques, and your general understanding of poetry.  This will be due at the end of the semester.  As we get closer to that time, I will go over this in more detail.

E 376M • Blackness/American Imagination

35197 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 303

E 376M  l  Blackness and the American Imagination


Instructor:  Reeves, R

Unique #:  35197

Semester:  Fall 2019

Cross-lists:  tbd


Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description: The idea for this course was a confluence of several events: the brouhaha over Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket,” a painting of Emmett Till that was shown during the Whitney Biennial in 2017, Kenneth Goldsmith’s “The Body of Michael Brown,” which remixed the autopsy of Michael Brown, and the ongoing questions of appropriation in art and literature, mainly the question: can we write about x if we are not x (“x” can stand in for a myriad of subjectivities, identities, and standpoints)?  These attempts at rendering blackness in an aesthetic manner and discussions about the ethics of deploying a subjectivity that is not one’s home-grown position sent me to reading Toni Morrison’s Harvard lectures that were collected Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination.  Morrison critiques and elucidates the American literary tradition of white writers of playing in—mucking about, fetishizing, villainizing—blackness, of which some of the aforementioned examples (i.e. Goldsmith and Schutz) corroborate.  I wanted to know how might we, American writers and critics, play “With” the dark, with blackness rather than in it.  Might our misunderstanding, misreading, missing of blackness be due to the face that we’ve only understood blackness epistemologically?  How do black writers, artists, thinker, construct both literary (aesthetic) and political blackness?  This course is interested in querying how blackness is constructed outside (and inside) of racism.  What is the ontology of blackness?   How is blackness articulated as both subjectivity of objects and a subjectivity of personhood?  Through thinking through a wide-range of black aesthetic processes and productions, I hope this course helps us theorize and chart an American literary imagination that can more fully encounter the diversity of black subjectivity.


Texts: Negroland (A Memoir), Margo Jefferson; Potted Meat (A Novel), Steven Dunn; Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination, Brent Hayes Edwards; Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow; Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, Toni Morrison; In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Christina Sharpe; Jazz, Toni Morrison;How to Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman.


Requirements & Grading:  Twenty percent of your grade will come from class participation and attendance.  Eighty percent of your grade will come from written and artistic assignments.

E 396L • Blackness/Literary Imagintn

35875 • Spring 2019
Meets M 6:00PM-9:00PM CAL 323

The course is conversation with Toni Morrison's *Whiteness and the Literary Imagination,* except that rather than 'playing in the dark,' playing in the tropes of darkness as reprobate, sublime, and ultimately destructive and overwhelming, we will 'play in the dark,' play in the abjection of blackness, theorize and describe how black writers articulate the dark.  Quite simply, the course is one that looks at how black folks (artists, writers, poets, photographers) describe, theorize, characterize, draw, render, perform blackness ontologically and epistemologically in literary and artistic. Texts will include Chistina Sharpe's *In the Wake,* Fred Moten's *The Undercommons,* Toni Morrison's *Whiteness and the Literary Imagination,* Paul Betty's *The Sellout,* Margo Jefferson's *Negroland: A Memoir,* Rickey Laurentiis' *Boy With Thorn,* among others. I will also pair these literary and theoretical readings with visual ephemera such as Roy De Carva and Langston Hughes *The Sweet Flypaper of Life,* the video work of Wangechi Mutu, Devan Shimaya's *Cry, Baby* among many, many others. I imagine this course will appeal to visual artists, art historians, creative writers, scholars of the African Diaspora and its literatures, and critics of twentieth and twenty-first century American literature. I hope this course is about stepping into the beyond. I will encourage students to dream and make wildly, ecstatically. I am not interested in reifying anything that ain't liberation. Let's get to it!

E 386L • Creatv Writ: Wrkshp In Poetry

35950 • Fall 2018
Meets M 6:00PM-9:00PM CAL 221

Creative Writing: Workshop in Poetry

We will read and write poems. In this way, the workshop will look like workshops that you've had before. In other ways, this workshop will not resemble workshops that you've had before in that, together, we will decide what the methods of workshopping will be. We will also employ non-traditional notions of text as examples of poetics (i.e. interviews by Marshawn Lynch, the NBA, the television show Atlanta). This class will not be your grandmother or your grandfather's workshop though we might read their poems.

E 396L • Citzn: From Ovid To Rankine

35355 • Spring 2018
Meets M 6:00PM-9:00PM PAR 302

Citizen: from Ovid to Claudia Rankine

In this course, we will interrogate the notion of the citizen as literary and philosophical trope as it intersects with, what Giorgio Agamben argues is the most political of relationships, friendship. How has poetry and philosophy conceived and advanced notions of the citizen—the political citizen, the exiled citizen, the nonhuman citizen? In this course, we will read a broad range of texts that explicitly and implicitly consider the citizen and intersection with the literary imaginations. These texts will include Book of Exile by Ovid, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, “The Friend” in What is an Apparatus and Other Essays by Giorgio Agamben, Notebooks on a Return to a Native Land by Aimé Cesaire, The Practice of Diaspora by Brent Hayes Edwards, among many other texts. We will respond to this material both critically and creatively. I do encourage both creative writers (of all genres) and literary critics and scholars (of all stripes, denominations, aesthetic leanings) to take the course. What we seek to do is encounter both lyric, narrative, and political ontology of the citizen and ask: ‘what does it mean to be a citizen?’ 

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