80 Works

Peter Klappert   



Here's this section of 619 as described in the Spring '99 English Course Descriptions booklet: 

This workshop will be modeled on the legendary Corcoran School of Art assignment called "80 Works," described in the Washington Post, October 20, 1996 .... [A photo-reduced copy is attached to this syllabus] We will use Behbsp;    Norton Anthology of Poetry, ed. Ellison et alia (Norton, pb). Any edition.

NAMP    Morton Anthology of Modern Poetry, ed. Ellmann et alia (Norton, pb). Any edition. CP Contemporary American Poetry, 4th, 5th, or 6th ed., ed. Al Poulin, Jr. (Houghton Mifflin)

PH       Princeton Handbook of Poetry & Poetics, ed.
Preminger et alia, (Princeton, pb). (Alternative to PEP and NF)

PEP      Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Preminger et alia (Princeton, cl & pb). (Preferred alternative to NF.)

NAP, NAMP and CP are basic: only the cumulative expense of texts for this course prevented me from listing them as "required." PEP is an extremely valuable reference, but it is quite expensive in the full-length version and is not essential for 619. PH is an abridged version of PEP.

RR      Rhyme's Reavon, Hollander (Yale, pb).

SM     Strong Measures: Recent American Poetry in Traditional Forms, ed. Dacey & Jones (Harper & Row, pb).

RR is entertaining & instructive but hardly necessary for 619. SM is one of a number of anthologies of current poetry in traditional forms.

"On Reserve" (this semester "in my office")

A number of useful folders, books and other materials; the Menu includes references to them. A list of some of these items is at the end of this syllabus.

In addition, any number of "introduction to creative writing" and "introduction to poetry writing" textbooks can be interesting sources for the assignments you make to the class or for the unassigned poems among your 80 works.


Even on this second incarnation, "80 Works" is an experiment for me as well as for you. Although I will say something about my aims for the course at our first meeting, I hope you will feel free to offer suggestions and modifications. I won't be distressed if the course is revised as we create it together, and I trust you won't metamorphose into a Teppichfresser when such changes occur.

The best initial guide to "80 Works" is the Post article, "Give Me 80!": our workshop should, like the Corcoran requirement, involve various levels of stress, exhaustion, dissociation, hyperventilation and giddiness. We should expect some of the work produced by each poet to be inspired, serious & moving, and we should expect some work to be weird, silly, childish, adolescent, prematurely senile, gross, perverted, and banal. But I hope everything we see hEach member of the group must complete at least 5 assignments invented by other members of the group. Assignments will be distributed on Mondays (only) and, in weeks 2 through 6, at least one poem in response must be handed in (i.e., distributed to the class) the following Thursday.

4. Self-assignments. Each member of the group will write at least 5 poems s/he has "assigned" to her/himself There are at last 3 ways to complete this requirement:

(1) If you distribute an assignment to the group which you have not tried yourself (see 3, above), your response to your own assignment will constitute I of the 5 self-assigned poems.

(2) You might frame an assignment for yourself and then write a poem to satisfy it. For example: "Write a poem which includes one of the following letter sequences at least 15 times: o-n, t-h-e, a-t, or i-n. "

(3) On the other hand, you might simply find yourself writing a poem without any conscious assignment. If, while writing or after writing, you can frame an assignment which the poem satisfies, write that assignment and submit your poem with it.


You must do all the poems required of everyone, you must do the minimum number of poems indicated for designated groups, you must do at least 5 assignments invented by other members of the class, and you must do at least 5 self-assigned poems. You must do 80 Works to get an A in this workshop.

NO INCOMPLETES! Because of the nature of this workshop, you do not have the stress-reducing option of taking an Incomplete. All work must be completed by Spring Break. Of course, if you die in the next 7 weeks, you may petition the Dean to withdraw from the course.

You may do up to 4 responses to any one assignment and count each of them as "a work." If you do 10 responses to one assignment, however, only 4 will count toward your 80 works.


We will try to balance workshop sessions so that we spend enough time clarifying assignments and the rest of our time responding to your poems. If we have extra meetings (i.e., more than the 14 listed in the schedule), we will probably devote these entirely to your poems.
Discussions of your work should be quick, pointed and-because of the circumstances under which the poems will be written-largely "nonjudgmental." That is, we will read and listen to a poem, make a few brief comments which emphasize what we find exciting or promising, and move on.

In so far as there are readings, you really must do them by the dates when they will be discussed.

Please try to get to class by 7:20 so that you don't waste everyone else's time & tuition. (We have lots to do!) If you have a class from 4:30-7: 1 0, you might leave that early sometimes in order to get to 619 on time or to give yourself breathing time between classes. If other commitments mean that you will regularly be late to class, please let us know so that we don't assume Except if specified, I don't care if you revise during these 7 weeks or not.


At the first meeting we will divide into small groups of 3 or 4 poets each. These have two purposes. (1) Members of a group will work on collaborative poems together. (2) Members of a group will be particularly careful to give each other feedback (oral or written) on all work they produce. For small groups I want to gather people who have not previously worked together, either in other workshops' small groups or outside of classes.



All poems submitted must be typed, unless they would not be set in type in connection with publication, exhibition or performance. If a poem is 2 or more pages, please copy on one side of a page only (or in two columns, side by side) and staple poems into sets. Then assemble those individual poems or sets into packets in numerical order and clip them together.

In other words, at each meeting you should distribute packets for that day, with the poems due and the poems you did on your own in the same order in which they occur in the Menu. Put poems which respond to another student's assignment after those on the menu, and put poems that respond to your own assignments at the end of the packet.

(I can understand a desire to economize by fitting poems onto pages however they can be packed in most tightly, but that's a misguided economy if it means we waste huge amounts of class time simply trying to figure out where things are. For the same reason, I ask that you distribute your assignments separately and that, if you are passing out poems late (or early), you make those a separate handout.)

Because I often include successful work from classes in future handouts, for general bookkeeping during this 7 weeks, and to help us locate poems quickly, please:

(1) include the following info in the upper right corner of the first page of each typed poem or packet

:Your Name, Date Distributed
80 Works, Spring 99'
A list of the assignments that follow (Assignment # and Name or Assignment by ________ and Name)

(2) Type the number and name of the assignment just above the title of each poem.


Some of the assignments have formal metrical requirements, and for these you will be asked to submit 2 copies of each poem: the first copy may be either single or double-spaced, the second must be double-spaced and include the scansion.

Use - for an unstressed syllable, / for a stressed syllable, (/) for a "courtesy stress" (a stress created by the rhythm of words before and after), and in those rare cases where it is justified, * for a "hovering stress" (a syllable which can but-poems you feel are "finished" and "representative." These should be handed out separately from other work and can be printed on 2 sides of a page. These poems do not count toward the 80 works: they are simply to help us get acquainted. (2) Bring a line, passage or stanza of your own that you like, have never been able to use, and are willing to give away. (3) Assignments 6 (Part 1); 7A (Part 1); 7B (i.e., bring the line, passage or stanza); 14A or 14B; 15; 26A or 26B or 26C; and either 28A or 28B. Note that Assignment 27 will be due later in the course-start looking!

Remember that, unless the Menu says otherwise, you must always bring enough copies of work for everyone, including yourself & the instructor. That looks like it will be 19 copies.

M 2/01
BRING: (1) An assignment you are making to the class.
(2) Assignments 6 (Part U) and 7A (Part II)-that is, responses to the "Part I's" you received on 2/28. (3) Assignments 12; 16; 18 or 19; 21; 58 or 59 or 60.

R 2/04
BRING: (1) A response to an assignment from another student, distributed on Monday (2) 7B, 18 or 19; the first of the assignments numbered 65-74.

M 2/08
BRING: (1) An assignment you are making to the class.
(2) Assignments 1; 2; 2 1; 55; 61 or 62 or 63, 64;

R 2/11
(1) A response to an assignment from another student, distributed on Monday (2) Assignment XI (Part 1); 29; the second of the assignments numbered 65-74; one of the assignments in the "(a)" group [8, 84 or 85].

M 2/15
(1) An assignment you are making to the class.
(2) Group members bring written responses to other group members Assignment XI (Part 1); (3) Responses to one of the assignments numbered 22-25, one of the assignments numbered 34-39; the third of the assignments 65-75; one of the assignments 86-88; X4.

R 2/18
(1) A response to an assignment from another student, distributed on Monday (2) Assignment XI(Part 11); Assignment XI (Part 111); 3A; 27.

M 2/22
(1) An assignment you are making to the class.
(2) Assignment XI (Part IV); 31 or 32; 40; one of the assignments numbered 75-81; one of the assignments
89- 91; the first of the assignments numbered 92-97;

R 2/25
Bring: (1) A response to an assignment from another student, distributed on Monday (2) Assignment 3B; one of the assignments numbered 43-47; 82

SUNDAY 2/28 (Time TBA)
Assignment 48 or 49; the second of the assignments numbered 92-97; one of the assignments numbered 9 8- 1 0 1;

M 3/01
(1) An assignment you are making to the class.
(2) Assignment 52 or 53; one of the assignments numbered 102-1 10


SUNDAY 3/07 (Time TBA)
(1) A response to an assignment from another student, distributed on Monday (2) Assignment X2; 5; 33, one of the assignments numbered 111- 113; 118


R 3/11-> 9. Experimentation should not be confused with mere dilettantism: the quest is serious, the stakes are mortal, the poet's desire must answer a desire in the reader.

10. Most poems, no matter how serious or desperate their subjects, are stronger if they imply that--somehow, at some point--the poet stepped back and asked,

"You sure you ain't just feeling sorry for yourself'?"

(From George Starbuck's "Margaret, Are You Drug?," a satire of Gerard Manley Hopkins's "Spring and Fafl: to a young child.")

11. There is no democracy in the arts: some poems are better than others and have more rights than others (such as: to be published, read, discussed, respected).

12. If a poem can be abandoned, the poet should abandon it; if poetry itself can be abandoned, the poet should abandon it.

13. Degrees of difference are not degrees of value: a poet's self-admonitions need not apply to anyone else to produce valid work for that poet.




PLEASE NOTE: Many of these books are old, many are old paperbacks. Do not bend back spines and please treat all items as rare books--which is to say: very gently. Thank you!

Aldridge, NOTPOEAE (visual/concrete poems)

Hecht & Hollander, Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double Dactyls.

Hollander, Rhyme's Reason

Hollander, Types of Shape (visual/emblem poems)

Kempton, Karl, Lost Alfabet Found (visual objects-without discursive content. "Each letter derives from a found object." The letters are composed of letters & punctuation from a standard keyboard.)

Paz, Roubaud, Sanguineti & Tomlinson, Renga: A Chain of Poems (The four poets use the sonnet rather than the tanka for their form; each stanza of the four-stanza sonnets is in a different language (Spanish, French, Italian and English). English translations by Tomlinson are printed enface.)

Pop-Up Children's Books
TriQuarterly 21: Contemporary British Poetry (1971). (Includes experimental work, including concrete poems and photographs of objects by [an Hamilton Finlay, and D.M. Thomas's "Labyrinth.")

Wepman, etc. The Life (a collection of toasts.)

Wildman, ed., Anthology of Concr1-26
Prose Adaptations, 7 & 15-20
Collage, 27-29
Blot Outs, 30
Picture Poems (Kenneth Patchen), ' )O

FOLDER 4 (MVI #2, Vol 1):
Various essays on prosody & music in language.

FOLDER 5 (MVI 42, Vol, 11):
Epigrams, 152-165, 179A-179B
Clerihews, 166-169, 179A-179B
Limericks, 170-174, 179A-179B
Double Dactyls, 175-177
Alfred Corn's Blank Verse Assign. 180-182B
Dactylic Acrostic, 178A
Linked- & Cross-Rhyme, 183-188

FOLDER 6 (397, Folder 2): Imagism

FOLDER 7 (MVI 43, Vol. 1): Imagism Essays. Also available as: POUND, E., "A Retrospect" (2 cc) PRATT, W., "Introduction" to 7'he Imagist Poem (3 cc)

FOLDER 8 (MVI #3, Vol. H): Imagism
Mostly Poems. See the notes on the content of MVI #3 on the first page of MVI #3, Vol. 1.

FOLDER 9A (MVI #5): Linked Verse (Renga) Linked Poems (Renshi)

FOLDER 9B (397, Folder [II):
Part 1: Linked Verse
(repeats Folder 8)
Part 2: Collaborative Terza Rima

FOLDER 10 (MVI 46, Vol. 1): Metaphor "Variations on a Metaphor"
Background material, including essays by Stevens (on "resemblances") & Brian Swann (on riddles)
Riddle Poems

FOLDER 11 (MVI #6, Vol. 11): Metaphor Essays by Pinsky, Eliot & Ransom (all mainly in praise of extended metaphor) Poems using extended metaphor Ira Sadoff s "Self-Portrait" assignment & examples

FOLDER 12: Info for Sadoff's "Self-Portrait " assignment:
The signs of the Zodiac
"Music & the Zodiac"
"Star Struck" (Life, July 97)
"Why do almost half of all Americans believe in the stars?"

FOLDER 13 (NM #7, Vol. 1): William Gass's essay "And" Catalogue poems
FOLDER 14 (MVI 47, Vol. 11) Abecedarians Repetend
Question and Q&A poems Imperative Poems Simultaneous Poems Parenthetics
"Anthology" of student examples

FOLDER 15 (MVI #8, Vol. 1): Sonnets
Various Recognized Sonnet Forms Sonnet Variations & Nonce Sonnets

FOLDER 16 (MVI #8, Vols. 11 & III): Villanelles & Sestinas
"Notes on the Villanelle" by Donald Justice
Examples of v. And v. variations
"The Sestina" by John Fred Nims
Examples of s. and s variations

FOLDER 17 (MVI 49): Dramatic Poems Traditional Dramatic Monologues Personae Poems
D.M. variations: Poems in the form of

FOLDER 18 (MVI 4 10): Literary Satires

FOLDER 19: NO WORDS POEMS (Original of Smithsonian article on artist Goldsworthy.)


1999 Peter Klappert  All rights reserved.