This course focuses on the creative processes involved in writing poetry. We will look at poets’ revisions of their work, their statements about poetry, their letters to and from other writers, and the publication and reception of their poems in their own time. We will concentrate on specific case studies: the manuscripts and letter-poems of the reclusive writer Emily Dickinson; the notebooks, letters, and poems of Walt Whitman that he wrote while tending the wounded in the Civil War hospitals; the poems, manuscripts, and letters of George Moses Horton, who taught himself to read and write and published two books of poetry while enslaved in North Carolina; and the drafts, revisions, and animal drawings of twentieth-century modernist Marianne Moore. The course seeks to develop close reading skills that are crucial for interpreting poetry; to explore how social and cultural conditions both limit and enable poetic expression, and how poets analyze and criticize those conditions; to strengthen writing and oral communication skills; and to develop research skills.