We hope this site will be used by anyone interested in poetry and how to write it, but we created it especially for you and your students. On it you’ll find a free online course that will help you bring new kinds of poetry into your classroom – not only free verse poems on the page, but poetry intended for performance, namely, spoken word and rap.
Each of the videos in the course concludes with related links to craft helps and exercises that will show your students how to write poems for the page and poems for the stage. Through the films and their accompanying overview, you’ll be able to create your own unit in poetry writing.
Are you concerned you might not know enough about poetry to offer this course?
Please be assured that as the course teacher, you don’t need to know a thing about the new kinds of poetry dealt with here, or even much about the craft of verse. We’ve designed our course in such a way that most of what students need to know is covered in the videos and accompanying links and PDF downloads. We’ve even provided a five-day lesson plan to launch the course. The result is that you and your students can learn about creating poems together, sharing discoveries as you go.
What do the videos cover?
Video 1 addresses the subject of poetry as a whole. In it, a range of poets explain why poems excite them and what poetry’s main elements are. In Video 2, the poets describe our site’s three kinds of poetry — written, spoken word, and rap – discussing each in terms of form and approach. The poets begin the process of writing a poem in Video 3, making suggestions about how to start a first draft. And in Video 4 the group takes up the subject of revision, showing students ways to rewrite creatively. In short, the videos move students through a process of thinking about poetry in new ways, choosing a kind of poetry to write, and creating a poem of their own.
How do I use this site?
There’s no single way to incorporate our course into your curriculum, but the best first step is to get acquainted with the site yourself, watching all the videos and exploring the craft links and performance models that follow each video. Get a good sense of the differences among the site’s three genres of poetry: written, spoken word, and rapped.
As a second step, we recommend assigning the first two videos (“Four Elements of Excellent Poetry,” and “Written, Spoken, Rapped”), together with the links to readings and craft helps, for homework. Students can also print out the downloadable PDFs to keep and guide them throughout your unit. This will give class members the chance to think about poetry’s requirements and to consider the three options available to them as poets: poems for the page, spoken word poems, or rap. To proceed from there, we offer the following plan.