Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll and Individualism: An American Poetry Tour


Overview:Graffiti portrait of Bob Dylan
Come along and explore poetry from the United States of America through the lens of its common themes and ideas. From pioneer trails to the Sexual Revolution and to the musical poetry of Bob Dylan and the Wu Tang Clan, you will delve into the American experience through the words of its most influential voices.

Pre-course Activity:
Please bring a short (single page) poem you love and the name of an American (USA) song you love to the first session.

Please note that the poem does not have to be an American poem.

Target audience:
This course is ideal for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the poetry and culture of the United States of America.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will have:

  • Learnt about the evolution of American poetry
  • Discussed the different themes and ideas of American poetry
  • Have a greater understanding of American culture
  • Fallen in love with poetry even more!

Course outline:
Each session includes a lecture presentation with opportunities for questions and group discussion.

Session 1
General Introduction: How to experience poetry and the importance of Individualism in American Poetry.

Session 2
Sex: An exploration of Sex in American Poetry (e.g. Feminist Poetry, LGBT Poetry, Poetry from the Sexual Revolution)

Session 3
Drugs: An exploration of Drugs in American Poetry (e.g. The Beats, Avant-Garde Poetry, Hippie Culture)

Session 4
Rock n Roll: An exploration of the poetry of American music (e.g. Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, The Wu Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar)

There is a short break halfway through each session and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

Richard Hoffman is an American poet from San Antonio, Texas. He studied writing and poetry under some of the most influential writers of today, including Naomi Shihab Nye, Yusef Komunyakaa, Mark Doty, Li-Young Lee, Chuck Palaniuk, Margaret Attwood, Grace Paley, Irvine Welsh, and Wole Soyinka. In 2006, he was named Alden B. Dow Creativity Fellow of Northwood University, United States for his “contributions to American poetry” and for developing and naming the poetic form known as parallax poetry.

Relevant links:
International Institute of Modern Letters

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.