Poetry Course Sequence

This page outlines the sequence of courses each student must take to fulfill the requirements for the degree. To see the catalogue description of each course, go to "Poetry with an Emphasis on Versecraft HOME" and click on the tab titled "Courses," or click directly here.

The Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Western uses a low-residency format that requires:

1) on-campus intensive seminars and workshops for two weeks during three consecutive summers;

2) a plan of non-residency study requiring four academic semesters, during each of which students work both with peers and one-to-one with writing faculty mentors.

The graduate program insists on a high degree of commitment and excellence from candidates, all of whom must maintain a 3.0 GPA to complete the program. A minimum grade of B- in each course applied to a degree program is also required. Summer residency courses within concentrations are front-loaded -- that is, these courses require students to prepare for the intensive residency experience by completing pre-assigned reading lists as well as preparing advanced assignments to maximize the time for discussion and qualitative analysis during the course of studies on campus.

In the first and second summer residencies, candidates also complete one credit each summer of CRWR 600, learning or updating online tools mastery, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with non-residency mentors. Third-summer candidates earn one credit attending and participating in critiques and readings for cohorts attending their first and second summers. All students also attend and participate in Writing the Rockies, a summer creative writing conference hosted on campus during each residency.

MFA candidates may elect to study two concentrations by increasing the duration of their program to six semesters and a fourth summer residency. MA candidates may continue into the MFA program at the discretion of the admissions committee.

The non-residency component of each concentration involves both intensive coursework online, including reading and writing assignments and interactive work on discussion boards, along with faculty advising. Students spend a minimum of 25-30 hours per week on writing assignments. Students also participate weekly in threaded synchronous and asynchronous online voice and discussion boards during each term with other students and mentors. Students earn 12 credits each semester for this work (six credits for each mentored course topic).

The Poetry Concentration

"Writing in a new form every week challenges my growth as a poet, and immersion into the history of form and innovation constantly renews my sensibilities about what a poem is - and does." -- Laura Stuckey, MFA '13

Students come to Western with something to say. The curriculum of our MFA poetry concentration helps poets master how to say it.

Verse is not only a way of saying something; it is also a way of doing something that prose cannot. That is why, in this program, students study the greatest possible range of how to do these things, from meters to stanzas, sonnet to ghazal, aubade to serenade, verse drama to verse satire.

As a Poetry Concentration student, you will master a wide range of poetic forms and techniques, while also acquiring historical and analytical knowledge. You will develop a wide range of skills in composing poetic language, practicing multiple forms and techniques. You will study how to participate fully in the literary world, from taking a summer intensive public speaking to practicing the writing of  relevant prose, such as poetry book reviews. And, finally, you will learn how to live as a poet, how to turn your passion for language and your love of these forms into your career.

The MFA Concentration in Poetry requires 60 credits:

CRWR 600     Summer Orientation 3 credits
CRWR 631     Scansion Immersion 2 credits
CRWR 632     Public Performance 2 credits
CRWR 633     Poetry and Music 2 credits
CRWR 636     Metrical Traditions  & Versification I 6 credits
CRWR 638     History of English Language/Studies in Translation 6 credits
CRWR 641     Metrical Traditions  & Versification II 6 credits
CRWR 643     Historical Foundations of English Prosody 6 credits

During second fall term, choose one of the following:

CRWR 646*   Narrative Forms in Poetry 6 credits
CRWR 647*   The Satirical Tradition and Dramatic Verse 6 credits

During second fall term, choose one of the following:

CRWR 608     Craft and Practice I  6 credits
CRWR 665     Screenwriting Genre  6 credits
CRWR 651     Advanced Poetry Genres in Particular Forms 6 credits
CRWR 653     Poetry Book Reviewing/Poetry, Literacy, Pedagogy 6 credits
CRWR 694     Thesis 3 credits

Poetry as a Second Area of Emphasis

Students pursuing this concentration as a second area of emphasis must earn 30 credits within the concentration as follows.
All four of the following:

CRWR 600     Summer Orientation 1 credit
CRWR 636     Metrical Traditions  & Versification I 6 credits
CRWR 646     Narrative Poetry, or CRWR 647 Dramatic Poetry/Verse Satire 6 credits
CRWR 694     Thesis 3 credits

Supporting courses in consultation with advisor, 12  credits.
One of the following:

CRWR 631     Scansion Immersion 2 credits
CRWR 632     Public Performance 2 credits
CRWR 633     Poetry and Music 2 credits

Students may count CRWR 646 if taken already to fulfill the out-of-concentration course required by the primary area of emphasis.

Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Application Information