Creative Writing Specialty Comprehensive Exam Reading List for Poets: 27 Items

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Creative Writing Specialty Comprehensive Exam Reading List for Poets: 27 Items*

1. Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams: Frost “Home Burial,” “The Witch of Coös,” “Birches,” “Design,” “‘Out, Out—’”, “Directive,” “After Apple-Picking,”; Williams “The Great Figure,” “Danse Russe,” “Spring and All,” “To Elsie,” “This Is Just to Say,” “To a Poor Old Woman,” “A Sort of a Song,” “The Dance [‘In Breughel’s great picture’],” “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” “Queen Anne’s Lace,” “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,” “Portrait of a Lady,” “The Sparrow.”
2. Theodore Roethke and Robinson Jeffers: Roethke “Cuttings,” “Cuttings” (later),” “Root Cellar,” “Orchids,” “Frau Bauman, Frau Schmidt, and Frau Schwartze,” “My Papa’s Waltz,” “Elegy for Jane,” “I Knew a Woman,” “Journey to the Interior,” “The Far Field”; Jeffers “Shine, Perishing Republic,” “Carmel Point,” “Fawn’s Foster-Mother,” “Hurt Hawks,” “Hands,” “Calm and Full the Ocean,” “The Purse Seine,” “Credo.”
3. Robert Hayden “The Ballad of Sue Ellen Westerfield,” “Night, Death, Mississippi,” “Homage to the Empress of the Blues,” “Those Winter Sundays,” “Middle Passage,” “O Daedalus, Fly Away Home,” “Monet’s ‘Waterlilies,’” “A Plague of Starlings,” “For a Young Artist,” “The Tattooed Man,” “Bone-Flower Elegy.”

4. Anne Sexton from Selected Poems of Anne Sexton: “Her Kind,” “Ringing the Bells,” “Lullaby,” “The Truth the Dead Know,” “To a Friend Whose Work / Has Come to Triumph,” “The Starry Night,” “Old Dwarf Heart,” “The Operation,” “With Mercy for the Greedy,” “For Eleanor Boylan Talking with God,” “And One for My Dame,” “Flee on Your Donkey,” “Somewhere in Africa,” “Consorting with Angels,” “Walking in Paris,” “Menstruation at Forty,” “The Breast,” “In Celebration of My Uterus,” “For My Lover, Returning to His Wife,” “Just Once,” “You All Know the Story of the Other Woman,” “The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator,” “Song for a Lady,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Rapunzel,” “Dreaming the Breasts,” “The Silence,” “from Death of the Fathers [parts 1-4],” “Angels of the Love Affair,” “The Fury of Beautiful Bones,” “The Fury of Guitars and Sopranos,” “The Fury of Cooks,” “The Fury of Cocks,” “The Fury of Sunsets.”

5. A.R. Ammons and Allen Ginsberg: Ammons “Corsons Inlet,” “Mechanism,” “Cascadilla Falls,” “Catalyst,” “The City Limits,” “Motion,”  Garbage (Sections 1-5); Ginsberg “Howl,” “America,” “Supermarket in California.”
6. Lucile Clifton Blessing the Boats
7. David Lee The Porcine Canticles
8. Alberto Ríos “The Purpose of Altar Boys,” “A Photograph from the Revolution: Guayamas to Nogales,” “Indentations in the Sugar,” “Across this Bridge of Dreams,” “Dressing for Dinner,” “Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses,” “A Man Then Suddenly Stops Moving,” “Day of the Refugios,” “Writing from Memory,” “The Blurred Woman in the Photograph,” “Some Extensions on the Sovereignity of Science.”

9. Rita Dove and Jane Kenyon: Dove “Parsley,” “After Reading Mickey in the Night Kitchen for the Third Time Before Bed,” “Grape Sherbet,” “Weathering Out,” “Agosta the Winged Man and Rasha the Black Dove”; Kenyon “Otherwise,” “The Suitor,” “Let Evening Come,” “Not Writing,” “Happiness,” “Having it Out with Melancholy.”


10. Naomi Shihab Nye and Billy Collins: Nye “The Travelling Onion,” “Making a Fist,” “The World in Translation,” “Arabic,” “Famous,” “Arabic Coffee”; Collins “Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House,” “Questions about Angels,” “Memento Mori,” “Pie Man,” “A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal,” “Candle Hat,” “Hell,” “I Chop Some Parsley While Listening to Art Blakey's Version of 'Three Blind Mice,'” “Man in Space.”

11. Carol Frost “Chimera,” “Ode to the Horseshoe Crab,” “Red Deer,” “Apple Rind,” “Icarus in Winter,” “Eating the Whole,” “To Kill a Deer,” “Fury,” “Sexual Jealousy,” “The Fairy Tale,” “The Haircut,” “The Embroidery,” “The Winter without Snow,” “Influenza,” “Egret,” “Blue Crab.”

12. Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor: Welty "Petrified Man," "June Recital," "Lily Daw and the Ladies” "Why I Live at the P.O."; O'Connor “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” “Revelation.”
13. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Cat’s Cradle
14. Gabriel Garcia Marquez “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,” “Blacamán the Good, Vendor of Miracles.”
15. Alice Munro “Boys and Girls,” “How I Met My Husband,” “Turkey Season,” “Silence.”
16. ZZ Packer and Grace Paley: Packer “Brownies,” “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”; Paley “The Long-Distance Runner,” “Wants,” “A Conversation with My Father.”
17. Henry James “The Art of Fiction.”
18. Ezra Pound and Robert Frost: Pound “A Retrospect” and “Affirmations; Frost “The Figure a Poem Makes.”
19. Flannery O’Connor “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction” and “The Nature and Aim of Fiction.”
20. John Gardner The Art of Fiction.
21. Alicia Ostriker and Adrienne Rich: Ostriker “The Nerves of a Midwife: Contemporary American Women’s Poetry”; Rich “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision.”
22. Wayne Booth “Control of Distance in Jane Austen’s Emma.”
23. A.R. Ammons “A Poem Is a Walk.”
24. Donald Hall and Robert Bly: Hall “Goatfoot, Milktongue, Twinbird: The Psychic Origins of Poetic Form”; Bly “What the Image Can Do.”
25. W.D. Snodgrass “Tact and the Poet’s Force.”
26. Charles Baxter “On Defamiliarization,” “Counterpointed Characterization.”
27. Francine Prose “Learning from Chekhov.”
* We suggest students buy

Selected Poems of Anne Sexton (Eds. Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George)

Clifton’s Blessing the Boats

Lee’s The Porcine Canticles

Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle


Claims for Poetry (Donald Hall, Ed.)

Gardner’s The Art of Fiction.


Remaining poems can be found in anthologies like Contemporary American Poetry (Ed. A. Poulin, Jr.) or The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. At some point the department may have copies of poems and short stories that are not available from reputable websites on file in the English department and some books on reserve in the Axe Library. We would also like to keep links on Canvas to poems, stories, and essays.


Creative Writing Specialty Comprehensive Exam Reading List for Fiction Writers: 27 Items*
1. Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams: Frost “Home Burial,” “The Witch of Coös,” “Birches,” “Design,” “‘Out, Out—’”, “Directive,” “After Apple-Picking,”; Williams “The Great Figure,” “Danse Russe,” “Spring and All,” “To Elsie,” “This Is Just to Say,” “To a Poor Old Woman,” “A Sort of a Song,” “The Dance [‘In Breughel’s great picture’],” “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” “Queen Anne’s Lace,” “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,” “Portrait of a Lady,” “The Sparrow.”

2. Anne Sexton from Selected Poems of Anne Sexton: “Her Kind,” “Ringing the Bells,” “Lullaby,” “The Truth the Dead Know,” “To a Friend Whose Work / Has Come to Triumph,” “The Starry Night,” “Old Dwarf Heart,” “The Operation,” “With Mercy for the Greedy,” “For Eleanor Boylan Talking with God,” “And One for My Dame,” “Flee on Your Donkey,” “Somewhere in Africa,” “Consorting with Angels,” “Walking in Paris,” “Menstruation at Forty,” “The Breast,” “In Celebration of My Uterus,” “For My Lover, Returning to His Wife,” “Just Once,” “You All Know the Story of the Other Woman,” “The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator,” “Song for a Lady,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Rapunzel,” “Dreaming the Breasts,” “The Silence,” “from Death of the Fathers [parts 1-4],” “Angels of the Love Affair,” “The Fury of Beautiful Bones,” “The Fury of Guitars and Sopranos,” “The Fury of Cooks,” “The Fury of Cocks,” “The Fury of Sunsets.”

3. Lucile Clifton Blessing the Boats
4. David Lee The Porcine Canticles
5. Naomi Shihab Nye and Billy Collins: Nye “The Travelling Onion,” “Making a Fist,” “The World in Translation,” “Arabic,” “Famous,” “Arabic Coffee”; Collins “Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House,” “Questions about Angels,” “Memento Mori,” “Pie Man,” “A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal,” “Candle Hat,” “Hell,” “I Chop Some Parsley While Listening to Art Blakey's Version of 'Three Blind Mice,'” “Man in Space.”
6. Anton Chekhov, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner: Chekhov “Gusev,” “The Two Volodyas,” “The Lady with the Dog”; Joyce “Araby”; Hemingway “Indian Camp,” “Cat in the Rain,” “Hills Like White Elephants,” “A Clean Well-Lighted Place”; Faulkner “Barn Burning.”
7. Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor: Welty "Why I Live at the P.O.", "Petrified Man," "June Recital," "Lily Daw and the Ladies”; O'Connor “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” “Revelation.”
8. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Cat’s Cradle
9. Raymond Carver “Are These Actual Miles,” “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” “A Small Good Thing” “The Bath,” “Popular Mechanics” “Why Don’t You Dance?”.
10. Gabriel Garcia Marquez “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,” “Blacamán the Good, Vendor of Miracles.”
11. Alice Munro “Boys and Girls,” “How I Met My Husband,” “Turkey Season,” “Silence.”
12. Jhumpa Lahiri “A Temporary Matter,” “Interpreter of Maladies,” “Sexy,” and “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar.”

13. ZZ Packer and Grace Paley: Packer “Brownies,” “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”; Paley “The Long-Distance Runner,” “Wants,” “A Conversation with My Father.”

14. George Saunders and Tobias Wolff: Saunders “Tenth of December,” “Sea Oak,” “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline”; Wolff “Hunters in the Snow,” “Bullet in the Brain,” “Yes.”
15. Denis Johnson Jesus’ Son.
16. Jennifer Egan A Visit from the Goon Squad
17. Henry James “The Art of Fiction.”
18. Ezra Pound and Robert Frost: Pound “A Retrospect” and “Affirmations; Frost “The Figure a Poem Makes.”
19. Flannery O’Connor “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction” and “The Nature and Aim of Fiction.”
20. John Gardner The Art of Fiction.
21. Alicia Ostriker and Adrienne Rich: Ostriker “The Nerves of a Midwife: Contemporary American Women’s Poetry”; Rich “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision.”
22. Wayne Booth “Control and Distance in Jane Austen’s Emma.”
23. A.R. Ammons “A Poem Is a Walk.”
24. Donald Hall and Robert Bly: Hall “Goatfoot, Milktongue, Twinbird: The Psychic Origins of Poetic Form”; Bly “What the Image Can Do.”
25. W.D. Snodgrass “Tact and the Poet’s Force.”
26. Charles Baxter “On Defamiliarization,” “Counterpointed Characterization.”
27. Francine Prose “Learning from Chekhov.”
* We suggest students buy

Selected Poems of Anne Sexton (Eds. Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George)

Clifton’s Blessing the Boats

Lee’s The Porcine Canticles

Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle

Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad

Johnson’s Jesus’ Son



Claims for Poetry (Donald Hall, Ed.)

Gardner’s The Art of Fiction.

At some point the department may have copies of poems and short stories that are not available from reputable websites on file in the English department and some books on reserve in the Axe Library. We would also like to keep links on Canvas to poems, stories, and essays.




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