Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


The Art of Poetry

Boston University via edX

This course may be unavailable.


Poetry lives in any reader, not necessarily in performance by the poet or a trained actor. The pleasure of actually saying a poem, or even saying it in your imagination—your mind’s ear—is essential. That is a central idea of “The Art of Poetry,” well demonstrated by the videos at the photographer saying Sylvia Plath’s “Nick and the Candlestick,” the high school student saying Langston Hughes’ “Minstrel Man.” Those readers base what they say about each poem upon their experience of saying it.

The course is demanding, and based on a certain kind of intense reading, requiring prolonged, thorough— in fact, repeated—attention to specific poems.

The focus will be on elements of the art such as poetry’s historical relation to courtship; techniques of sound in free verse; poetry and difficulty; kidding and tribute—with only incidental attention to “schools,” jargons, categories, and coteries.

Learners are encouraged to think truly, carefully and passionately about what the poem says, along with how the poem feels in one’s own, actual or imagined voice. As Robert Pinsky says, in the Preface to Singing School: “this anthology will succeed if it encourages the reader to emulate it by replacing it . . . create your own anthology.” In a comparable way, this course hopes to inspire a lifelong study of poetry.

Taught by

Robert Pinsky


3.8 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

Start your review of The Art of Poetry

  • Gladys M. Andersen

    Gladys M. Andersen completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Mechanics of course impossible to manage. Naively assumed an intelligent, disinterested benevolence and good will, and an unlimited amount of time, on part of the student peer-reviewers who decided on the students' grades. Result: extreme frustra…
  • LeahS is taking this course right now, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Excellent course for anyone who is not sure if they like poetry. It's a chance to explore poetry in a completely flexible way.
  • Dennis B. Mendiola

    Dennis B. Mendiola completed this course.

  • Profile image for Yebga Um Nimrod
    Yebga Um Nimrod

    Yebga Um Nimrod completed this course, spending 40 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.