MWF 12:20 PM – 1:15 PM
Music has an essential connection to poetry, a shared dependence on rhythm, but too often the genres are separated and their relationship ignored. This course will reunite these two branches of what Lessing calls “temporal arts” and examine how they have complemented each other since antiquity. As Ezra Pound remarks, poetry “atrophies…when it gets too far from music.” In this course, we’ll read and listen to song lyrics and lyric poems by a wide range of poets and songwriters from many different periods (including William Shakespeare, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes, W.H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Kevin Young), concentrating on poetic techniques and analyzing how the poets’ words operate within the confines of musical structures. We’ll investigate musical forms such as traditional ballads, blues, fugues, sonatas, odes, and jazz, as well as varieties of song structure. We’ll learn how deeply poetry is rooted in music, ending the semester with sessions devoted to hip hop, presentations of recorded songs students want to share, and “open-mike” performances of their own work, spoken or sung. Students will respond to some songs/poems in class and some in written responses; they will also write poems and/or song lyrics of their own, making use of techniques and devices learned in this course.