Suzanne R. Hoover

BA, Sarah Lawrence College, MA and PhD, Columbia University. National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Humanist grant, 1972-73. Author of numerous scholarly articles, reviews and essays. Member of the Sarah Lawrence literature faculty from 1977-2000, taught courses in literary craft for many years, for both poets and fiction writers. From 2005 to 2015 taught advanced fiction writing workshops at the Westport Writers Workshop in CT and since 2008, concurrently, has taught craft in the SLC Graduate Writing Program.

Current graduate courses

The Hidden Lives of Poems


Poetry is the most concentrated of the literary modes and the one in which meaning and form are most intimately and subtly related. Therefore, to grasp fully what any poem has to offer, we need to understand more than the meaning of its statements; we must understand in depth how the poem is made, and also, the crucial relationship between what the poem is saying and how it is made. We may come to such understanding through an intensive study of whole poems, paying equal attention to the larger structures of meaning and feeling, the sub-structures of syntax, image, rhythm, and phrasing, and the “miniature” patterns (syllabic/phonemic) of sound and sense. Then poems stand forth in their full complexity as intricate and powerful expressive systems.

In sum: while emphasizing crucial connections between meaning and form, this course will also go deeply into poetic anatomy and the poet's toolkit: metaphor, simile, meter, stanza form, word-sound, diction, silence, line-length, word-length, line-breaks, and so on. We will study a broad range of poems—BOTH CLOSED AND OPEN FORMS—and on the way, work toward a general definition of poetry.


Previous courses

Reading for Writers

To become a better writer, by far the most useful and interesting thing that you can do is to become a better reader. (That is the way good writers have always learned how to write.) In this course, we will explore a range of great texts—from the ranks of fiction, drama, poetry and film—with the aim of understanding how these great texts work and why they succeed as well as they do. As you actually retrace closely the footsteps of the literary imagination, you will widen and deepen your own work—in any genre. Our informal class discussions will be oriented toward the project of expanding your powers and acquiring new techniques. Texts will include: Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse; Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory; Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day; James Joyce, “A Little Cloud,” from Dubliners; G. B. Shaw’s drama, Saint Joan; Samuel Beckett’s one-act play, Krapp's Last Tape; the Epstein Brothers and Howard Koch, screenplay for Casablanca. Poetry may include poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, Walt Whitman, Stanley Kunitz, D. H. Lawrence. Films may include The Sting, The Fallen Idol, Babette's Feast, and The Lives of Others. There will be two short class papers (written at home on a topic related to class work). Conference topics and writing will be individually arranged.