The Poetry concentration at Columbia is one of the strongest and most rigorous in the country. The program’s focus is, always, on students’ creative work, but we also emphasize an in-depth study of poetry and poetics unlike any other curriculum offered elsewhere. In a given semester, poetry students participate in a hands-on, intense, and scrupulously supportive workshop while also enrolling in seminars, lectures, and Master Classes designed to stimulate and expand their creative aspirations and to deepen their critical engagement with the art. Aesthetic diversity prevails at Columbia—there is no such subgenre as the “Columbia Poem”—as does an authentic and profound sense of community. Our full-time faculty members are Timothy Donnelly, Dorothea Lasky, Deborah Paredez, and Shane McCrae; our recent adjunct faculty have included such exceptional poets and educators as Mark Bibbins, Maria Damon, Emily Fragos, Alan Gilbert, Cathy Park Hong, Richard Howard, Ada Limón, Eileen Myles, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Alice Quinn, Roger Reeves, Mónica de la Torre, and Mark Wunderlich. Recent visitors have included Rae Armantrout, Mary Jo Bang, Josh Bell, Stephen Burt, Peter Gizzi, Jorie Graham, Paul Muldoon, Claudia Rankine, and Marjorie Welish. The many employment opportunities offered to our students, besides those already cited above, include internships at the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Society of America, Poets House, and the Unterberg Poetry Center at the 92nd St. Y. Our goal is to help students to realize the best version of the poet they know themselves to be. Accordingly, their experience at Columbia culminates with the Thesis Workshop— the most intense delving into their work—in which each student meets weekly with a faculty mentor and a small number of cohorts to critique his or her growing body of work, to discuss its further development, and to shape it into a prelude to a first book of poems.
We think individual achievement and a strong sense of community can, and should, go hand in hand. Our workshops encourage students to explore and develop their own unique sensibilities as they seek to promote the progress of their peers. Our seminars offer rigorous critical study of poetic traditions and recent innovations alike, grounding our students’ practice in a shared engagement with the works of the past and present as they realize, together, poetry’s future.