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Introduction to Poetry

All you ever wanted to know about poetry—and then some.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
This is a poem.

And this is one,

Okay, so maybe we're not the most profound poets on the block, but that doesn't mean we can't teach you a thing or two about the trade. This course will introduce you to everything poetry: from the fancy terms (enjambment! iamb! villanelle!) to the stuff you think you know but really don't (lines! rhymes! rhythm!). And along the way, you may even become a poet yourself. Yeah, we said it.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Poetry: A Scoop

This unit will help you get your feet wet in poetry, giving you a handy dandy guide to How to Read a Poem and bringing you face to face with a few fun poetic forms.

Unit 2. Look Who's Talking

Just like prose fiction, poetry has characters. This unit is all about sussing out who those characters are.

Unit 3. Where It's At

Every poem has a setting, whether or not it's obvious. This unit will help you find the setting and figure out why it matters.

Unit 4. Poetic Devices

What's a course on poetry with talk of poetic devices? This unit will tackle metaphor, simile, imagery, rhyme, and sound. You know, just the basics.

Unit 5. It's All in the Music

Music is everywhere in poetry, and this unit will help you find it by keeping your ears peeled for alliteration, assonance, consonance, and all sorts of rhymes.

Unit 6. Iambs and Trochees and Spondees, Oh My: Measuring Meter in Poetry

Meter is more than just a bunch of ba-DUMs on the page. In this unit, we'll introduce you to almost every kind of meter on the planet. And on other planets, too.

Unit 7. Sonnet? We Hardly Know It

An entire unit on sonnets? You betcha.

Unit 8. Poetic Forms and Traditions

Sonnets aren't the only important poetic form. This unit will help you distinguish between lyric, epic, and narrative poetry, while introducing you to everything from the haiku to the ghazal (gesundheit!). And of course, we'll top things off with some fancy free verse.

Unit 9. Only the Good Notes: Music as Poetry

Bruce Springsteen and Billie Holiday—and a bunch of other goodies—comin' at ya in this unit on music as poetry.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 2: Vehicles Singing Tenor

Emily Dickinson liked to see these lap the miles and lick the valleys up—metaphorically speaking, of course. No wonder they call a train an iron horse.


Now that we're cooking with metaphors, we've got to figure out exactly what ingredients go into the recipe. In this lesson, we'll learn about vehicles and tenors, which are the stuff of metaphor. Often overlooked, these parts make up the whole, and they're a handy way to break down a metaphor when you're having trouble uncovering its meaning.

We'd say more, but we think that would spoil the fun. So head on into the lesson, and let's get started. It'll be a day at the beach, we promise.

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  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Grade Levels: 9, 10
  • Course Type: Elective
  • Category:
    • English
    • Literature

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