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Poetry Machines (A Letter to a Future Reader)  

Harvard College/Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Professor Margaret Rhee
DTTF Mindy Seu
Spring 2019
Sever 110 (FAS)

“A poem is a small (or large) machine made of words.”
– William Carlos Williams.

This course asks a series of questions on the intersection of poetry and other forms of visual art such as cinema, video art, and new media. More specifically, we’ll explore traditional books of poetry which include visual and media imagery such as works by Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Teresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, and Tory Dent’s HIV, Mon Amour. We will discuss the rigorous demands and pleasures of reading image and text, and how these cross-genre works respond to political circumstances such as atrocity, violence, and oppression. In addition to traditionally produced poetry books, the course investigates how films and visual art such as the poetic films by Trinh Minh-Ha and Searching directed by Aneesh Chaganty embodies poetry within digital pixels and cinematic form. Through engagement with electronic literature and digital culture, the course asks if we could consider Black Twitter and other #hastag movements or Twitter bots as poetry? Through collaborative workshops, focused readings, and rigorous discussion, students will create their own digital poetry work, and write scholarly essays that explore the definition, stakes, and interventions of poetry in our digital age.