Saturday 5 September 2009

What poetry are U of T students reading?

If I have less time for blogging these days, the opposite seems to be true for Jacob McArthur Mooney, who is this month's writer in residence for Open Book Toronto. In the back-to-school spirit, he's had a close look at what poetic fare students of the University of Toronto (pictured here the last time they updated their reading lists, apparently) can expect to find on their syllabi.

Here's a sample:

I don’t know what I expected, but I expected more. I went to an underfunded university at the far edge of the country, took exactly three English courses, and still got exposure to the likes of Solie and Babstock. What’s stopping the University of Toronto from doing the same?

And why is The Waste Land an introductory text, exactly? I’ve read The Waste Land twenty times, and there’s still stuff in there I can’t quite wrap my head around. What is it about the instruction of poetry that makes us begin with poems that are as distant and foreign to their students as possible, and slowly move toward things like Al Purdy’s Rooms for Rent on Other Planets (English 354Y)? I’m not talking about degrees of difficulty, you understand. Al Purdy can occasionally be a very difficult poet, but he writes about a life far more coherent to a crowd of 1991 births than a Spenser or Keats or even Eliot or Pound.

Read the rest at Open Book Toronto.

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