Revised Reading List — Harryette Mullen

from Sleeping With the Dictionary:

All She Wrote

Any Lit

Black Nikes


Coo/Slur (not online; will be scanned and uploaded to course page as pdf)

Sleeping With the Dictionary

Souvenir from Anywhere (link is audio only; will also be scanned)

Why You and I (will also be scanned)


Poetry and Identity

Telegraphs from a Distracted Sybil


Optional reading:

Mullen’s essay “Writing to the Unimagined Reader

Eric Liu’s article for the Atlantic, “What Every American Should Know


Prep Page Part A: Close read a poem.

Prep Page Part B: Respond to one of these questions.

  1. Pick a poem and a short essay and put them in conversation. What do you as a reader gain from Mullen’s insights on her writing? Do these poems support or contradict the categorizations she describes in “Poetry and Identity”?
  2. Which do you find more of in these poems — a speaker or a subject? Are you more sympathetic to the speakers or the subjects?
  3. Which of these poems would you take with you to a desert island? Why?

Please complete these prep pages on your own and bring them to class.


After finishing your prep pages, do these two things:

  1. Read (just to get a sense of) the Wikipedia articles for Language Poets and the Black Arts Movement.
  2. Fill out a Google form for a class exercise: Fill out the poem “Elliptical” as if it were a giant fill-in-the blanks. Use the form to fill in the word that you would put in the ellipses, either by instinct or to make meaning from it. Please have this done by midnight on Wednesday (Nov. 1)!

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