“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry,” writes Emily Dickinson. As one of the most compressed art forms, poetry relies on rich and sensuous imagery to convey meaningful experiences that have the power to evoke in us both genuine feeling and deep, often philosophical, thought. As with all art, poetry provides a mechanism to explore the complexities of our own existence as well as to step outside ourselves to understand others. This is especially important in our voyage to diverse countries and cultures, as students will be asked to utilize their imagination to relate to foreign customs and beliefs. Students will learn the art of reading – and enjoying – poetry. They will be exposed to an extensive and diverse selection from many cultures, countries, and ethnicities related to our ports of call. As students attend to the nuances of context, tone, imagery, metaphor, symbol, form, and diction, they will expand their sensibilities and strengthen their imaginative reach. Through class discussion and various writing assignments, they will also improve their critical thinking and writing skills.
Field WorkCountry: Belgium
We will spend the day with Professor Bart Eeckhout, who will be our guide and interpreter as we tour Antwerp in the morning and Ghent in the afternoon. In the morning session in Antwerp, we will meet the newly selected City Poet, Bernard Dewulf, who will discuss his poetry and the role of poetry in Antwerp. He will accompany us on a walking tour of various locations where poetry, through the efforts of previous City Poets, has been inscribed in public spaces. Professor Eeckhout will provide translations of the poems ahead of time and will also discuss Belgium's most famous poet, Hugo Claus, and his recently translated work, "Ten Ways of Looking at P. B. Shelley," as a way to introduce students to Belgian poetry and its relationship to English and American models. After lunch, we will travel to Ghent via bus to visit the Poetry Center, the only cultural institution that is wholly devoted to poetry in the Netherlands and Belgium. A guide will give us an explanatory tour of the Center's holdings and its various programs to support and encourage poetry. In addition, Professor Eeckhout will arrange to have one or two speakers, such as Dutch poet Tom Van de Voorde, who is also the artistic director of a literary program in Brussels that invites international writers throughout the year, and professor of Dutch poetry, Yves T'sjoen, who will talk about Dutch and Flemish poetry and its relationship to world literature.