Icons of Place: Exploration Through Poetic Thought

GEN ST 160

There is a long history of poetry of place in literature. As the poet Wendell Berry put it, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” Whether you are a longtime Seattle resident or a newcomer to the city, this course will help you creatively explore some of the icons of our local urban environment through a poetic lens.

We’ll look at what goes into the making of an icon or of public art itself — what repositories of historical memory can be stored within them, but also what modes of expression might be forestalled by fame and the aura of history? How have these places changed over time, and changed Seattle in the process? What does a place reveal about the values of a culture, and what is your own relationship to it in the present moment? 

Course Curriculum and Features

This course will explore how previous poets have encountered city and landscape through language, ranging from the Prospect Ode to the greater Romantic lyric. Seattle sites that we’ll celebrate and critique include the Space Needle, Fremont Troll, Olympic Sculpture Park and the Boeing assembly plant, as well as local legends, oddities and cultural districts. You’ll study poets such as Wordsworth, Blake, Pablo Neruda and Marilyn Chin as well as writers associated with the UW creative writing program, including James Wright, Theodore Roethke and Elizabeth Bishop. We’ll also embark on weekly field trips to inspire your own writing.

Designed For

Those interested in the written word, creative response to the physical world and marking the transition between places and life stages through the act of writing.


Pimone Triplett
Associate Professor, Department of English

Aug 22–Sep 15, 2017

9:30 a.m.–12 p.m.