20th Century Poetry

Jun 2003

They brought this fellow in becase of the unfortunate death of Kenneth Koch. He is a knowlodgeable and affable fellow but is rather horrible as a professor. His grasp of the poets covered is wonderful, but he simply has no idea of how the process of teaching them should go. His classes are disorganized, disjointed and rather boring. He has no concept of the appropriate structure for a college class. He passed out term paper topics during one of his Elizabeth Bishop sessions, and never mentioned the bloody things again until the session before they were due! I ended up churning out ten pages in a caffeine and beaujolais spiked frenzy, but the whole thing was severely damaging to my psyche. The final was rather entertaining, though (in spite of the fact that I took it while as hungover as Robert Lowell on the day after Mardi Gras), and I managed an A in the class. Still the whole affair was rather stressful and insane, and I suggest avoiding it.

May 2003

Editor of "Parnassus" literary journal and biographer of William Caros Williams, Prof. Leibowitz is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about contemporary poetry. However, his teaching style is either rusty or just incomplete, because his lectures are sometimes disjointed and he doesn't do a great job of incorporating student comments and discussion. Grading is pretty harsh, as if he's holding his undergratuate students to the graduate or post-graduate standards, and it's unclear exactly what he wants in the papers. The selection of poetry he has you read is excellent, though, and he includes poets that he respects but not necessarily admires, which I think is the mark of a real academic. A real professor, though, that's questionable. Hopefully he'll get the hang of it in a semester or two.

Apr 2002

Ridiculous, but good fun. He knows the 20th century, and describes himself as a major player in it, with anecdotes from all the poets and politicians who are his très bons amis. He is a good teacher of analysis, and you get some theory, and mostly you get to listen to a hyper-educated, hyper-poetic wacky french/New York academic personality. Take a course with him. It's worth it.