Skip Navigation

Poetry Concentration

Banner image of student reciting poetry
The Poetry Concentration allows students to pursue work on and about poetry through a variety of experiences and courses. By combining academic and practical work and independent projects, students will gain a deeper understanding of the craft of writing, the business of publication and the dissemination of poetry to others.


Information About the Concentration

For information about the concentrations, please join us at the Presentation of the Concentrations. Register to attend.


The Poetry Concentration accepts up to 12 students annually. Sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply. Applications are reviewed in both fall and spring semesters. The concentration supports the study of poetry within a range of scholarly disciplines and gives students the opportunity to explore areas of professional practice (writing poetry, teaching poetry, writing about poetry, translating poetry and book arts/publishing of poetry) through local, regional and national presses, journals, book arts centers and other sites where poetry is made, critiqued and taught.

Two Gateway Courses

The following gateway courses are required for the Poetry Concentration. Concentrators should begin with ENG 112; PYX 140 is limited to 15 with priority given to declared concentrators.

Consult the Smith College Course Search for locations, times and more information.

ENG 112 Reading Contemporary Poetry
(2 credit, S/U only)
This course offers the exciting opportunity to read contemporary poetry and to meet the poets who write it. We read and discuss the work of six to eight contemporary poets who visit Smith as part of the Poetry Center reading series; we bring our thoughts and queries to the intimate afternoon Q & A sessions with the poets; and we attend their public readings.

There are no prerequisites for this class, which accommodates a range of students, from those with minimal experience reading poems to those who are dedicated scholars and writers of poetry. The emphasis is on process and reflection rather than on analysis and formal argumentation. We’re not so much about unlocking “the meaning” as simply engaging each poem on as many levels as possible. We trace our way through the experience of reading a poem, asking questions such as: What’s your immediate hit on this voice? What do you notice about how the words are set on the page? How does the poem itself direct your experience of reading it; that is, how do particular elements work on you as you read and reread? At what point are you most strongly engaged? Which words or phrases seem most pivotal in understanding the poem’s intention(s)? We also reflect on the experience of seeing the poet read and/or talk about his or her work and the ways in which this may color or change our response to it.

PYX 140 The Art and Business of Poetry
(1 credit, S/U only)
An intensive, weeklong gateway course required of all concentrators. PYX 140 is offered during interterm and enables students to sample the various focus areas within the concentration: translation, book arts, teaching, and poetry reviewing and blogging. The course meets three hours each day. Enrollment is limited to 15, with priority given to declared concentrators.

Successful applicants will usually have taken one or both of the two gateway courses (ENG 112 and PYX 140) before applying. Accepted students will work with the director as their concentration adviser, who will oversee the progress on the concentration and will track their work. Students receive a certificate of completion for their work.

The concentration is composed of six courses. In addition to the two gateway courses and the senior capstone seminar, a student must take three electives, chosen to support an area of focus. In addition, students are required to engage in one or two poetry-related practical learning experiences or internships. The combined course work will total no fewer than 19 credits; the practical learning experiences carry no credit.

Fitting the Concentration with Your Major and Minor

In the application process, students will need to identify the major(s) (and minor, if known) that they intend to pursue, and the Advisory Committee will consider the feasibility of the proposed course of study. You may apply two courses from a major, or one course from a minor, toward your concentration.

Generally, students elect to participate in the Poetry Concentration in lieu of a department minor or second major. In some cases, however, students may choose to pursue the Poetry Concentration in addition to a second major or a minor. This often occurs when the concentration logically unifies and reinforces a particular program of study. For example, a student with an English major and an education minor might elect to do the minimal additional course work for the Poetry Concentration, with a focus on teaching poetry. Such decisions should be made in consultation with the student’s adviser.

Students will receive a certificate of completion for their work and the concentration will be noted on their official transcript. 


Three electives (total 12 credits)

Electives will relate to a concentrator's focus within the concentration. This may include courses in literature, education, community engagement, among other areas. For more information, see the tab on electives below.

A broad range of courses that engage with poetry can be found across the curriculum. Poetry concentrators are able to pursue a unique course of study related to their own personal interests within the genre. Possible electives could include (but are not limited to) poetry classes linked to English literature, translation, generative workshops, world languages, poets of color, environmental studies, classical studies, education, and community arts. If you see a poetry-related course among a department's current offerings, please consult with the concentration director to see if this could count as an elective toward fulfilling concentration requirements.

Five College Courses

Some Five College courses may be applied to PYX credit. Consult the current course catalogue to check availability. The director of the concentration will have final approval over which courses may be applied.


Two internships or practical experiences(not for credit)

To receive credit for your practical experience, you must:

  1. Talk your plans over with your concentration adviser. Then apply for internship credit via the Lazarus Center for Career Development. For funded internships, students will only need to apply for credit. For normally unfunded internships, students may apply for Praxis with credit or Praxis Plus with credit, whichever is appropriate.
  2. In your application be sure to indicate that the internship is for the concentration, and to list Matt Donovan as your faculty adviser for the concentration (rather thank your major adviser).

Retroactive Practicum Experiences

With your adviser’s approval, a practical experience completed before entering the Poetry Concentration may be accepted provided that it consisted of at least 100 hours and took place after your senior year of high school and within two years of matriculating at Smith. Please consult your concentration adviser, and then document your experience by completing the Practical Experience Approval Form retroactively with your concentration adviser soon after you have been accepted into the concentration.

Capstone(4 credits)

This a one-semester project in the senior year that synthesizes the student’s previous course work and internship experiences to address a substantive independent project. This work will be conducted primarily as a group independent study or a seminar, depending on the number of senior concentrators.

Independent projects in areas other than poetry writing must have a faculty sponsor in addition to the poetry capstone instructor. Projects might include development of curriculum materials related to the teaching of poetry to elementary school students; creation of a book or a printed volume of poetry; producing a chapbook-length manuscript of original poetry or of translations; a video poetry project, etc. Topics for the capstone will be decided in concert with the concentration director during the fall of the senior year. Students will present their capstone work at the end of the semester.

ENG/PYX 301 Seminar in Advanced Poetry Writing: A Capstone
Offered every spring; generally limited to senior PYX concentrators

Conceived as the culmination of an undergraduate poet’s work, this course features a rigorous immersion in creative generation and revision. Student poets write a chapbook manuscript with thematic and/or stylistic cohesion (rather than disparate poems, as in prior workshop settings). For Poetry concentrators, this course counts as the required Capstone; for English majors in the Creative Writing track, the course counts as an advanced workshop, and may count toward the fulfillment of the "capstone experience" requirement. The class is run as a seminar, and includes discussion of the readings, student presentations and peer critique. Prerequisite for Poetry concentrators: completion, or concurrent enrollment in, the other course requirements for the concentration. For English majors and others: writing sample and instructor permission required.

PYX 400 Poetry Concentration Capstone Special Studies
May be taken in place of ENG/PYX 301 if a student wishes to pursue a capstone experience project that will not result in a chapbook of poems. Students interested in enrolling in PYX 400 must first consult with their concentration adviser.


Declaration of Concentration

Students who have been accepted into the concentration and received their adviser’s name need to fill out the
→ Program of Study Declaration Form.
This is the last step in making the concentration official in Workday.

Practical Experience Forms

After discussing the proposed practical experience with their advisers, students need to fill out the corresponding practical experience approval form in order to have the experience count towards the concentration requirements:

  • Summer Internship (100 hours or more) → Internship Credit Application
    All students undertaking a summer internship of at least 100 hours are eligible to receive academic credit (0.25 credits per experience) that will appear on their transcript. We encourage all students who qualify to apply for internship credit. Students applying for Praxis funding don’t need to fill out this form, and should instead use the “Praxis with Credit” form below.
  • Unpaid Summer Internship (220 hours or more) → Praxis with Credit Application
    All Smith students are eligible to receive a stipend payment for one normally unpaid internship through the Praxis program at the Lazarus Center. These internships must take place during the summer, and must comprise at least 220 working hours. Students in Concentrations are eligible to apply for Praxis a second time– Praxis Plus. When applying for a Praxis internship, the applicant must specify if the internship counts towards a concentration and should fill out the “Praxis with Credit” application.
  • Other Internships and Practical Experiences
    Students whose internships do not meet the above requirements because they take place during Interterm, during the school year, or for any other reason, should fill out the following forms.
    Prior to starting the internship please fill out the Practical Experience Approval Form.
    Upon completion of the practical experience please fill out the Practical Experience Completion Form.
  • Retroactive Credit for an Experience
    Students who completed a practical experience relevant to the concentration prior to being accepted into the cohort should discuss the experience with their concentration adviser as soon as possible. Once the experience is approved, students must fill out the → Practical Experience Completion Form and check the “Retroactive Experience” box on the form.

Capstone Project Proposal

Advising Checklist for Graduation

Students are required to submit a completed Concentration Advising Checklist at the start of their final semester. This form documents the completed components of the concentration requirements, and must be signed by the student’s concentration adviser. Completed form should be sent to the registrar’s office ( and to the administrative coordinator for concentrations (

Practical Experience Information

Following is a representative list of available poetry internships. This list is by no means comprehensive--it is intended to be a starting point for your search. You are also free to design your own practical experience; for example, you might choose to volunteer to teach poetry programming at a school or community center, or you might offer your services to a press or publication that doesn’t have an established internship program. 

The Chicago Poetry Center
Semester or Summer
grant writing, administration, event assistance

The Poetry Foundation
Internships are listed periodically on the Jobs section of the Poetry Foundation website.

Nuyorican Poets Cafe
New York
Semester or Summer
development; programming; publicity/outreach

Poets House
New York
Semester or Summer
book processing, editing, library maintenance

Beloit Poetry Journal
Farmington, ME
Semester or Summer
screening manuscripts, marketing/distribution, development of special projects (e.g. chapbooks, readings, workshops)

RHINO Poetry
Evanston, IL
Semester or Summer
logging submissions, rejection letters, website maintenance

Copper Canyon Press
Port Townsend, WA
Semester, Summer, or Interterm
publicity/marketing; editorial; production; development

The Poetry Project
New York
Semester or Summer
programming, development, publishing, editing

Augury Books
New York
distribution, website maintenance, social media, sales

Belladonna Collaborative
New York
Semester or Summer
event planning and assistance, sales, distribution, administration

Cave Canem
New York
Semester or Summer
marketing, programming, research, administration

Girls Write Now
New York
Semester or Summer
program: enrollment, curriculum, pair support; development/communications: outreach, funder research, proposal drafting and packaging

Milkweed Editions
Minneapolis, MN
Semester or Summer
marketing; development; editorial

The Frost Place
Franconia, NH
preparing and implementing summer programs, serving as museum docent

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
New York
Semester or Summer
editorial; marketing; publicity

Northampton, MA
Semester or Summer
reading and editing submissions, preparing texts, producing final copy

David R. Godine, Publisher
Semester or Summer
editorial, publicity, marketing, production

Hedgerow Books of Levellers Press
Amherst, MA
marketing, editing, prize submissions, event planning

If you wish to receive Praxis funding for an internship, it must be a minimum of 220 hours; see the Lazarus Center for Career Development for more information about Praxis funds.


Next application deadline is October 13, 2023

The Poetry Concentration accepts up to 12 students annually. Sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply. Preference is given to those who have already completed a gateway course and have shown ongoing interest in poetry.




Poetry Concentration

Wright Hall 102
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-4890
For general administrative queries, please contact  Veeka Trofimova