Poetry for the People: Landscapes of Community

Spring 2015 quarter

Taught by

poetry and literary arts, community studies/Middle East studies, journalism

Grace, beauty, hardship, resiliency, humor, creativity. Such are some of the themes found in the poetry of community. In establishing her landmark program Poetry for the People, poet-activist June Jordan recognized the power of poetry to inspire the powerless of all backgrounds to speak their truths and ignite change. That inspiration, wrote Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space, comes from "a consciousness associated with the soul." In cultivating both the expansiveness of the soul necessary to write poetry and the voice needed to speak our truths, this program will explore how communities engage poetry to illluminate stories and images of grace, beauty, creativity, hardship, resiliency and humor. Our basis of exploration will be grounded in both content and form. Regarding content, we will ground our studies in poetry as expression of empowerment among communities, including ones that have traditionally been marginalized. Regarding form, we will explore several poetic structures or genres, from ekphrastic to spoken word, as well as engage with poetic techniques such as metaphor and simile.

This program welcomes students with all levels of expertise in poetry, from novice to experienced, as well as those new to poetry who bring a sense of curiosity and openness to experiment with this art form. All students need to come with a willingness to share their poetry, engage in critique, and revise their work. Activities may include extensive reading of published poets, workshopping student poems, field trips, guest speakers, in-class writing exercises, films and seminar. We may also take advantage of opportunities as part of National Poetry Month in April. For final projects, students may choose to create either an individual or small group chapbook of poetry, or a spoken word video. Students will also participate in a public reading/performance of their original work.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Writing, the arts, communications, education, social services, government, nonprofits.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Weekend

Advertised schedule: 9a-4p Sat. We will also meet two Wednesday evenings from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. on April 15 and May 20 for Olympia Poetry Network readings in downtown Olympia at Traditions Cafe, and also two Thursday evenings, April 23 and May 28 from 7-9pm for spoken word performances at Cafe Love.


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Spring)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25



Open sophomore-senior. Freshman with faculty signature.

Course Reference Number

So - Sr (8 credits): 30004

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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