American Poetry in the Twentieth Century

Cliff Notes for the Interested Amateur

Four Wednesdays, March 10, 17, 24, and 31, 6:30–8:00 P.M. | Private residences, addresses will be provided to subscribers LIMITED ENROLLMENT

This series will offer an overview of the four main stages in twentieth century poetry. If you feel ignorant about American contemporary poetry--its aesthetic history, its major schools, and its major gures—and aren’t sure where to start, this course will give you a road map, and introduce you to the delightful characters and vivid experiences found on the uniquely American journey through this national art form.

March 10: Slam I - Modernism: The Twenties

  • Battle of the Titans!

  • TS Eliot versus William Carlos Williams with a supporting cast

March 17: Slam II - Loose Women, Beatniks and Flaneurs: The Fifties

  • Ann Sexton has sex in the kitchen!

  • Sylvia Plath cuts off her thumb!

  • Allen Ginsberg sweet talks a Sunflower!

  • Frank O’Hara goes to the Movies!

  • Robert Bly makes Surrealism American!

March 24: Slam III – The Narrative and Meditative Humanists: The Seventies and Eighties

  • CK Williams, Sharon Olds, Stephen Dunn, Louise Gluck

March 31: Slam IV – From the Narrative to the Postmodern: The Nineties

  • Lyn Hejinian, Language Poetry, and John Ashbery

Tony Hoagland is the author of three volumes of poetry: Sweet Ruin (winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry), Donkey Gospel (winner of the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets), and What Narcissism Means to Me, and a collection of essays about poetry, Real Sofistikashun. His poems and critical essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry Magazine, and Ploughshares. Mr. Hoagland has received many awards and prizes, including the 2005 O.B. Hardison, Jr. Prize awarded by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the only national prize to recognize a poet’s teaching as well as his art; the 2005 Mark Twain Award, given by the Poetry Foundation in recognition of a poet’s contribution to humor in American poetry; and in 2007 he was the first recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize. Mr. Hoagland teaches in the University of Houston graduate writing program and in the Warren Wilson College low residency MFA program in North Carolina. His new collection of poems, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, will be issued in January 2010.

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Fall 2018 brochures are out! Please let us know if you did not receive one and we will be happy to send one to you.

Registration is now open. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


The interest list for the fall and spring study tours is also now open. If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez in the fall of 2018 or Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy.


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. Please contact the registrar if you would like to be wait listed for this course. 


Have a great summer. We look forward to seeing you this fall!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.