Poetry and Objects

Fall – 2018YaleKarin Roffman

This class, which alternates meetings at the Beinecke Library and the Art Gallery Objects Classroom, will look at objects in three ways: from the point of view of the institutions that house and display them, the artists who collect them, and the poems in which they appear.

This semester we will focus on approximately 25 (primarily small) objects that are generally overlooked and under described, both by institutions and in poems.  Yet there is an art to non-description, as we will discover, and quite a bit of variety as to how seemingly unexceptional things are named.  At the same time, there are exceptional examples of unexceptional things, as we will see in both the Beinecke library and the Yale Art Gallery.  When poets write about these things—often actively flattening their uninteresting qualities—does that practice of non-description make these things especially worthy of our attention?  In this course, the less interesting the description of an object in a poem, the more we will pay attention to its history and life in and out of poems.

For the first half of the course, classes are organized around groups of objects; in the second half of the course there will be visits by three contemporary poets who will discuss a relationship between poetry and objects and between writing poetry and collecting in their own life and art.  Throughout the entire semester, we will read their poems and study related poetry, essays, objects and manuscripts.

Course Objectives:

*To study poetry and collecting as intersecting artistic practices.

*To consider how poets

This class, which alternates meetings at the Beinecke Library and the Art Gallery Objects Classroom, will look at objects in three ways: from the point of view of the institutions that house and display them, the artists who collect them, and the poems in which they appear.

This semester we will focus on approximately 25 (primarily small) objects that are generally overlooked and under described, both by institutions and in poems.  Yet there is an art to non-description, as we will discover, and quite a bit of variety as to how seemingly unexceptional things are named.  At the same time, there are exceptional examples of unexceptional things, as we will see in both the Beinecke library and the Yale Art Gallery.  When poets write about these things—often actively flattening their uninteresting qualities—does that practice of non-description make these things especially worthy of our attention?  In this course, the less interesting the description of an object in a poem, the more we will pay attention to its history and life in and out of poems.

For the first half of the course, classes are organized around groups of objects; in the second half of the course there will be visits by three contemporary poets who will discuss a relationship between poetry and objects and between writing poetry and collecting in their own life and art.  Throughout the entire semester, we will read their poems and study related poetry, essays, objects and manuscripts.

Course Objectives:

*To study poetry and collecting as intersecting artistic practices.

*To consider how poets make poems and think about objects; how poets make objects out of the poetic lives of things; how objects exist in the world and are imagined, treated, defined and discussed in different but overlapping ways in museums, libraries, lives and poems; and how these categories have shifted throughout history.

*To learn how to create mini online exhibitions and to present two mini physical exhibitions (one in an art gallery classroom and one in a Beinecke classroom) that incorporate cumulative work from the semester.  make poems and think about objects; how poets make objects out of the poetic lives of things; how objects exist in the world and are imagined, treated, defined and discussed in different but overlapping ways in museums, libraries, lives and poems; and how these categories have shifted throughout history.

*To learn how to create mini online exhibitions and to present two mini physical exhibitions (one in an art gallery classroom and one in a Beinecke classroom) that incorporate cumulative work from the semester.

Poetry and Objects Syllabus