“A Poetic Miscellany” with John Smith



Short Course: “A Poetic Miscellany” with John Smith
April 1 – May 20, 2008

PEI’s first poet laureate and Professor Emeritus at the University of Prince Edward Island, Dr. John Smith was a much-respected and much-loved professor of English for 30 years, whose gift of being able to bring literature alive touched hundreds of students, many of whom have since gone on to become some of the Island’s finest writers.

His books include Maps of Invariance (2005), Strands the Length of the Wind (1993) and Midnight Found You Dancing (1986). John Smith lives in Charlottetown.

His eight-week course will present a variety of poetic styles and genres, from earlier times to the 20th century.

Time: Tuesdays, 2 – 4 p.m, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and May 6, 13, and 20
Place: Royal Canadian Legion, 99 Pownal Street, Charlottetown


April 1. Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936) and Tommy Atkins’s Empire. Kipling is rightly known as a committed supporter of British imperialism. He is less often recognized as one of its more enlightened, perceptive, and trenchant critics. One of Britain’s most widely read and recognized poets in the 1890s, Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

April 8. Archibald Lampman (1861 – 1899) and the Aesthetics of Colonial Canada. A contemporary of Kipling, and, like Kipling, at the height of his powers in the 1890s, Lampman enacts another version of colonialism, applying a Keatsian sensibility to the Canadian scene, and to the Canadian wilderness in particular.

April 15. Lust, Love, Salvation, and John Donne (1572 – 1631). A contemporary of Shakespeare, and (by his own account) a Lothario-about-town in his earlier days, Donne later, as Dean of St. Paul’s, became one of the most arresting and admired preachers of his time. For three centuries relegated to the shadows by mainline critics, he is now recognized as one of our strongest and least dismissible poets.

April 22. Birth, Copulation, Death, and Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953). Enfant terrible of twentieth-century poetry, Thomas, by the age of nineteen, had crafted a unique bardic tone and a unique prosody, which he went on to develop and refine over a twenty-year poetic career.

April 29. Joy in Mudville: Everybody’s Favourite Recitation Poems. A line-up of old chestnuts roasting before the campfire. Casey at the Bat, The Raven, The Shooting of Dan McGrew- good poems or bad? However we judge them, in performance they work their magic still.

May 6. “Down by the Eildon Tree”: Ballads, Traditional and Literary. Designed to appeal to a wide audience, the balladeer’s narrative and lyric art is powerful, subtle, and sophisticated. The earliest traditional ballads known to us have sources in the mediaeval world. From the times of Burns, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, however, ballad form and technique have greatly contributed to the literature of the written word.

May 13. Still by the Eildon Tree: More Ballads Yet.

May 20. Poetry Ad Libitum. Participants in the course are invited to bring along their own choices of poems for presentation and discussion.

No fee is charged for this course, with the exception of a $5 contribution to cover the cost of photocopied materials. Registration takes place in class. Information is available at UPEI by phoning 902.566.0336.

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