How to Write Poetry for Beginners: A Masterclass on Craft, How to Read Poetry, and How to live Poetically

Welcome, aspiring poets! If you have a passion for words and a desire to express yourself through verse, then this e-learning unit on writing poetry is perfect for you.

Who would benefit from this course?

  1. Beginner poets who want to learn the fundamentals of poetry, including form, meter, and rhyme.
  2. Experienced poets who want to hone their craft and experiment with new techniques and styles.
  3. Students looking to explore their creativity and express themselves in new ways.
  4. Teachers looking to improve their own poetry writing skills and incorporate poetry into their curriculum.
  5. Anyone interested in the art of language and the power of words to inspire, uplift, and transform.

What will the curriculum cover?

  1. An introduction to different poetic forms, such as sonnets, haikus, and free verse.
  2. An exploration of meter and rhythm, and how they contribute to the musicality of poetry.
  3. Techniques for using metaphor, simile, and other literary devices to create vivid and impactful imagery.
  4. Strategies for revising and editing poetry, and getting feedback from peers and mentors.
  5. A survey of contemporary poets and their works, to help students stay current and gain inspiration for their own writing.

Join us for an immersive and engaging journey into the world of poetry writing. We look forward to helping you discover your voice and share your unique perspectives with the world.

Poetry manifests in unexpected forms!

Tentative Schedule and Objectives:

Here’s a content calendar for our asynchronous, 12-week course on writing poetry, along with peer review questions and a select reading list for students:

Week 1: Introduction to Poetry

  • What is poetry? What makes it unique as a form of creative expression?
  • Discussion of different poetic forms (sonnets, haikus, free verse, etc.)
  • Writing exercise: Experiment with different forms and write your own poem.

Week 2: Imagery and Sensory Detail

  • Using sensory detail to create vivid and impactful imagery.
  • Discussion of literary devices such as metaphor, simile, and personification.
  • Writing exercise: Write a poem that vividly describes a specific object or experience.

Week 3: Sound and Rhythm

  • Exploring the musicality of poetry through meter and rhyme.
  • Discussion of different types of meter and how to use them effectively.
  • Writing exercise: Write a poem that incorporates a specific type of meter.

Week 4: Voice and Tone

  • Finding your own voice as a poet and using tone to convey emotion and meaning.
  • Discussion of different tones in poetry (serious, playful, ironic, etc.).
  • Writing exercise: Write a poem that conveys a specific tone or mood.

Week 5: Editing and Revising

  • Strategies for revising and refining your poetry.
  • Discussion of the importance of editing and how to get feedback from peers and mentors.
  • Writing exercise: Revise one of your earlier poems and get feedback from a peer.

Week 6: Free Verse

  • Exploring the freedom and flexibility of free verse poetry.
  • Discussion of the unique challenges and opportunities of free verse.
  • Writing exercise: Write a free verse poem on a topic of your choice.

Week 7: Poetic Forms – Sonnet

  • A deeper dive into one of the most classic poetic forms, the sonnet.
  • Discussion of the structure and history of the sonnet.
  • Writing exercise: Write a sonnet on a topic of your choice.

Week 8: Poetic Forms – Haiku

  • A look at the brief but powerful haiku form.
  • Discussion of the structure and history of haikus.
  • Writing exercise: Write a haiku on a topic of your choice.

Week 9: Poetic Forms – Villanelle

  • Exploring the unique and challenging villanelle form.
  • Discussion of the structure and history of villanelles.
  • Writing exercise: Write a villanelle on a topic of your choice.

Week 10: Narrative Poetry

  • Using poetry to tell a story or narrative.
  • Discussion of narrative techniques such as plot, character, and setting.
  • Writing exercise: Write a narrative poem on a topic of your choice.

Week 11: Contemporary Poets

  • A survey of contemporary poets and their works.
  • Discussion of current trends and styles in poetry.
  • Writing exercise: Write a poem inspired by a contemporary poet.

Week 12: Final Review and Showcase

  • Peer review and feedback on each other’s final poems.
  • Showcase of final poems for the group.

Peer Review Questions:

  1. What is the main idea or theme of the poem?
  2. What emotions or feelings does the poem evoke in you?
  3. Does the poem use vivid and impactful imagery?
  4. Does the poem use sound and rhythm effectively?
  5. Are there any areas where the poem could be revised or refined?

Reading and Discussion List:

This unit we’re looking outside the canon, using a global approach.

  1. “A Black Woman Speaks of White Womanhood” by Audre Lorde
  2. “A River of Stones” by Yosano Akiko
  3. “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot (features non-Western and non-white voices)
  4. “The Red Poppies of Yunnan” by Luo Ying
  5. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes
  6. “Love Poem for a Wife” by Bei Dao
  7. “I Explain a Few Things” by Pablo Neruda
  8. “The Country Without a Post Office” by Agha Shahid Ali
  9. “The Garden of Abdul Gasazi” by Mahmoud Darwish
  10. “A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde

These poems cover a range of themes and styles, and come from a diverse array of voices from around the world. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a great starting point for anyone looking to explore poetry beyond the traditional canon and to engage with the perspectives of non-Western and non-white poets.

Suggested texts on the poets life:

Here are some suggested texts on writing poetry and memoirs on writing poetry:

  1. “The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing” by Richard Hugo – A collection of essays on the craft of poetry and the writing process.
  2. “The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry” by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux – A practical guide to writing poetry, including prompts, exercises, and tips on the creative process.
  3. “The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song” by Ellen Bryant Voigt – A guide to understanding the importance of syntax in poetry, with a focus on how the arrangement of words and phrases can create meaning and musicality.
  4. “The Poetics of Space” by Gaston Bachelard – An exploration of the relationship between space, imagination, and creativity, and how they intersect in the writing of poetry.
  5. “The Poet’s Work: 29 Poets on the Origins and Practice of Their Art” edited by Reginald Gibbons – A collection of essays by contemporary poets on the process of writing and the meaning of poetry.
  6. “Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within” by Kim Addonizio – A guide to unlocking creativity and inspiration for poets of all levels, including practical advice on the writing process and finding one’s own voice.
  7. “The Faraway Nearby” by Rebecca Solnit – A memoir that explores the connections between personal experience, memory, and the act of writing, with a focus on the role of metaphor and storytelling in poetry.
  8. “The Poet’s Notebook” by Stephen Kuusisto – A memoir and guide to writing poetry that focuses on the power of sensory detail and the role of the imagination in the creative process.

These texts offer a range of insights and approaches to writing poetry, and provide a wealth of inspiration for poets of all levels

This class is taking preregistration and if you’re interested, please sign up for email alerts for the official course release!

Let’s embark on this journey together.

I look forward to hearing from you!



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