Posts tagged poetry

Is the poetry program contemporary? (that poem posted was decent but I'm looking for like Dickman and Heany and Brock-Broido style of being taught) — Asked by Anonymous

We have programming in all ranges of poetry (and writing in general) — contemporary, archaic, and otherwise — the lit faculty work hard to balance the curriculum each term.  The Poets at Bennington Series lends itself to the contemporary, since we can’t ask dead poets to come talk and teach here (I mean we can ask…but…turns out no matter how much you knock on Frost’s grave, he just doesn’t respond…the nerve…)

I wouldn’t say any particular “style” is taught to students here…unless you consider being truthful a style.

— Parke ‘15



Hello and hi, 

Honestly, the best way to describe the poetry program at Bennington might very well be “all inclusive”. In my four years here, I’ve studied Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Whitman’s self-representation in Leaves of Grass, Olena Kalytiak Davis’ work, Jericho Brown, Dean Young’s poems and essays, CD Wright, Alex DImitrov’s use of social media platforms in poetic contexts and so much in between. There are courses with more direct focuses, like this term’s Dickinson & Whitman class, but there are also classes that address broader questions, like The Making of a Poem course taught this past fall, where, through contemporary texts, we analyzed what it means to make poetry, what poetry’s function or purpose is, and how it reaches its “goal”. 

I should also mention that the Poetry at Bennington program is always taught in conjunction with at least one poetry class. Visiting poets have a short residency including a reading, lecture, and Q&A session, and from time to time, students are able to workshop their poems 1-on-1 with the visiting poets. 

(Also,can you send us your favorite Dickman poem? I’ve never heard of them. )

~ben ‘14

at bennington college they teach me how to write, by Parke Haskell '15


i am a college student
at bennington college

where poetry flows
through my brain

like a bullet flowing
through a brain.

all the teachers i’ve ever had hold me
up in the hallway

i raise my hands over my head:
the student’s prayer

they look gleeful and otherworldly
in their argyle dispositions,…

Parke would never self promote, but that’s okay because I’ll promote her. She’s the best at poems! This whole blog is top notch Bennington writers. Follow it!
-Alan ‘15

Hey guys! My school has this day where all the seniors come in wearing something (t-shirts, hoodies, etc.) from the college they're attending next fall, and I was wondering where I could find some Bennington brag wear (for lack of a better term (because brag wear is actually the best term)). THANK YOU! — Asked by Anonymous

First of all, brag wear is not the best term. Fall term is the best term because the leaves are changing on campus and also we have so many excited new students who breathe life into the campus just as it is physically dying because of autumn’s awe-inspiring cruelty. Oh, New England your coarse terrain inspires me to take courses as rigorous as your terrain is coarse.

Also, here is a link to our bookstore.

-Alan ‘15

Laura Creste ‘13 featured on The Bennington School

A blog for Bennington writers past and present.

Check the feature here

and the tumblr here.


"Poetry is the history of our human subjectivity.  Subjectivity is the way we connect with the past.  It’s the history of the endurance of our inner life.  People connect the most emphatically when they’re not sure what they’re saying." 
—Mark Strand, visiting poet of the Poetry at Bennington Series, former Poet Laureate of the United States, Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry
(Parke ‘15)

"Poetry is the history of our human subjectivity.  Subjectivity is the way we connect with the past.  It’s the history of the endurance of our inner life.  People connect the most emphatically when they’re not sure what they’re saying." 

Mark Strand, visiting poet of the Poetry at Bennington Series, former Poet Laureate of the United States, Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry

(Parke ‘15)

What's the English and Philosophy program like at Bennington? What made you chose Bennington over other colleges? — Asked by sunsetabuckt

I’ve only taken one philosophy class — Global Ethics / Global Justice — but it was a good time and you know what? I’d recommend it. There are a wide range of topics in philosophy, from contemporary ethics and political philosophy to the ancient Greeks. Check out our course offerings here, I think that’s the best way to get a sense of the department. But really the ‘program’ is just the teachers and you can check them out here: we have two core faculty, Paul and Karen — get a sense of what work they’ve done, but also their physical appearances. Look at Karen’s cool cup! You can’t tell from the picture, but Paul has a cool accent. I think our discussion-based courses are perfect for philosophy; Paul likes to force people to take allegiances and then argue with one another in a way that isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. Seniors in philosophy have the opportunity to workshop a massive original thesis of their own in a small class setting.

-Alan ‘15 

So basically everything Alan said about philosophy holds true for Literature as well. All the professors are published authors, so you should go read their books. I recommend Annabel’s The Fox’s Walk. Check out the courses offered here. Courses usually focus on a particular style, time period, or group of authors. For example, I’ve taken Lit + Philosophy of Innocence, Literary Diaries and Journals, Lit of WWI, Reading and Writing Satire, and next term I’m taking Honors Seminar on Orwell. Like Philosophy, you can be part of a senior projects class where you and your fellow senior lit nerds will workshop your respective theses, lyric essays, novels, or collections of poems. Get at me if you’ve got more specific questions (


How is the English program at Bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

I answered this question in a really pretentious way a few months ago, but its still worth readingI’ll be a bit more pragmatic this time around.

Our literature faculty is awesome. They have a wide range of expertise and are constantly coming up with interesting course offerings that keep us engaged. You’ll never take “Survey of American Literature”, instead you’ll be in “Fitzgerald and Hemmingway” or my favorite example “If this be a Man: Italian Writers Under the Nazis” (Take that class. Just take it.) The emphasis is on learning to read well, and you will. All of the faculty members read a little differently and emphasize different things. Because each approaches novels differently, you’ll naturally fall in with some favorites that you jive with, but its great to step outside your comfort zone. The more you do, the more holistic your own approach will be. Having said that, I actually just want to study with Kathleen Dimmick until the end of time. After learning to read well, you can explore some of the upper level writing courses, like “Reading and Writing the Short Story”, or “Reading and Writing Poetry”. As a senior, you’ll complete advanced work: a thesis, poems, short stories or a novel. And it will be so much fun.

On top of that, all of our literature faculty are accomplished authors, writers and poets…here is Michael Dumanis reading some of his original work:

-Alan ‘15


White Fur

A poem from literature faculty member Mark Wunderlich published in the New Republic. 

The Silo!

Check out our little journal of student work! The silo is run by students. We each get a copy in our mailboxes, but there is an online version too with music, video, poetry, prose, and all things creative (and a play by me…)! Its a great way to get a feel for what’s happening here on campus.

-Alan ‘15

I'm so excited to have been accepted at Bennington, but the lack of a specific writing or creative writing program makes me hesitate about choosing it over schools that are rated as top for aspiring writers. Do undergraduate poets and fiction writers find that there are enough workshops or seminars at Bennington to meet their needs? And can a student take the same writing class more than once if it's the only one geared to his or her specialty? — Asked by Anonymous

Hi friend.

We get these types of inquiries a lot.  A lot a lot.  And I think they are particularly fascinating ones, because they call into question what it means to receive an education in writing.  As a student who primarily studies creative writing at Bennington, I have a lot of feeeeeeelings (bennington students have so many feelings) about the preconceptions formed around learning to write well, and (as Chekhov preached) from the heart.  Just warning you guys this is going to be long.  Sorry…but I think this is important!

Firstly, we do not lack a creative writing program; it is simply integrated into our literature program.  To be a good writer, you need to learn to read closely and attentively— you want to learn from the best, right?  (You know who is the best?  Flaubert is the best.  Ok getting off topic.)  So, most of our creative writing courses are focused around specific texts: for instance, the incredible Brooke Allen is currently teaching a class called Reading and Writing Satire, in which students both (you guessed it) read and write satire in order to further comprehend the style.  Because they are all working on projects with similar tones, they gain a greater understanding of how to critique one another’s work.  What I find is missing in most general workshop courses is a shared vocabulary, because everybody’s work is coming from a different context.  It’s hard to critique a piece when you don’t fundamentally understand the rules of its making.  

I took a class with Michael Dumanis last term called Reading and Writing Poetry, and I honestly believe it was one of the most exhilarating, emotionally exhausting, and challenging courses I’ve ever taken at Bennington.  I had a lot of experience with poetry, but it totally opened my eyes to the vastness of the medium.  (And, now, one of the students in that course has just been accepted as a new member of the Poetry Foundation.  Another was chosen to attend the Bucknell Seminar for Young Poets…get it laydayz!)  

Due to the nature of the Plan Process, you don’t go into a writing course and simply create work in order to fulfill assignments.  You will bring to each class your own interests, and write what is applicable to you.  For instance, I’m currently interested in writing about familial relationships, and how illness affects them…so it doesn’t really matter which course I’m taking, because I’m going to apply what I learn to those themes in some way.  Bennington’s courses provide an excellent opportunity to expand your writing beyond a voice that is comfortable for you (gotta take risks, yo), as well as get quality one-on-one time with faculty members (who are working writers, might I add…so they know what’s up), as well as your best critics, aka your peers.

If you want to write, you will write.  Some people need more of a push to do it, but I truly don’t believe you must attend a straight up seminar.  You don’t need to take a poetic workshop over and over again to produce poetry.  You just need the impetus to put the pen to the paper — to go out in the world, to observe with a keen and fascinated eye.  Many students here write PROLIFICALLY (it’s actually insane…I know somebody who just wrote a thesis for fun) on their own, simply because they feel the passion to do so.  And there are resources available, not only to hone and improve work, but also to have work read, which is honestly one of the most important tools you can get from a college campus (particularly if you take interest in playwriting, amirite?). 

So, what I’m saying is, it’s good to be a writer at Bennington College.  Come on over and we can talk about it more (I’m fairly easy to spot).

My best,

Parke ‘15

Check the live twitter feed for readings by our visiting poets this term, including Monica Youn, Jericho Brown, and Mark Doty. And check back Wednesday night at 7 for live coverage of our final visitor, Stephen Burt!
Ezra ‘13

Check the live twitter feed for readings by our visiting poets this term, including Monica Youn, Jericho Brown, and Mark Doty. And check back Wednesday night at 7 for live coverage of our final visitor, Stephen Burt!

Ezra ‘13

If I were interested in the facts, I would be a journalist. But I’m interested in the truth, so I’m a poet.
Jericho Brown, Poetry @ Bennington, 4/18/13 (via lifepoetic)
What's worse, apathy or ignorance? — Asked by Anonymous


I may not be in a place to answer that kind of question (considering it is 9 am in the morning), but I know an old dude (and a new lady) who gave it a shot.  Why don’t you check out the I-can-only-say-*titillating* contemporary adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, reworked and renewed by Bennington’s latest visiting poet, Mary Jo Bang.  You’ll see that, at the end of the day, what matters most is that we’re all going to the same place.  

So, which circle of hell would you rather prefer? Cheers!

— Parke ‘15

Mark Wunderlich's Blog: WHY I AM NO LONGER GAY


The internet is ruining my life. If I am to believe what the internet tells me, as a queer man I should want to be married. Marriage will save me from myself. It will complete me. Once my love is recognized by the State, I may visit my husband in a hospital. I may guarantee the seamless…

From Literature faculty Mark Wunderlich’s own tumblr, a provocative and compelling glimpse into his struggle with identity. It comes from a place of over forty years of thought on the topic. Read it twice, slowly. It’s well worth it.

- jason ‘13

Dear whoever: I was really conflicted as to whether or not I should attend Bennington. But then, I saw that Mark Wunderlich is part of the literature faculty. He's an objectively good, and good looking, poet. *swoon* I've pretty much made my decision now. Is he approachable? Nice? Can I email him? Figuratively drooling in anticipation of "The Problem of Sylvia Plath." — Asked by Anonymous

Silver fox, right?! I just took my first-ever poetry class with him on German poetry - specifically Rilke, Trakl, and Celan - and it was simply splendid. I was initially scared as heck about taking a poetry class, but he’s so approachable and funny and kind and brilliant. When I met him with to discuss my midterm, he was really encouraging, helpful, and overall CHILL (he immediately gave me a crash course on metre, and then we proceeded to bond over our Lamy fountain pens). He’s given me some of the most valuable constructive criticism I’ve ever received. But anywho, you can probably get away with emailing him. He can be found at Definitely mention Plath. 

- Anushka