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California Institute of the Arts

Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop

California Institute of the Arts via Coursera


Why just write poems when you can write better ones? This course is built on the notion that the most exciting writing begins after the first draft. It is specifically for folks who believe that writing poems just to express oneself is like using the Internet just for email. After all, poetry can change the way you and your readers think of the world and its inhabitants; it can break new ground for language; turn a blank sheet of paper into a teeming concert of voices and music.

Though any of us may have the potential to make that happen, having an understanding of how several tools of poetic composition can be used (and audaciously “mis-used”) gives you more ways to try (and if we do this right, we might surprise ourselves most of all).

We'll cover key poetic terms and devices by studying poems by a handful of modern and contemporary poets and then get a chance to try our own hand at writing new poem drafts from a select number of prompts. Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to workshop your poem drafts and get feedback on your work, working towards a more polished poem.

Taught by

Douglas Kearney


4.4 rating, based on 19 Class Central reviews

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  • Charles Settles is taking this course right now.

    I have taken Robert Pinsky's very engaging "Art of Poetry" and Eavan Boland's 10 Premodern Female written poems MOOCS, and both were solidly foundational for me. But what "Sharpened Visions" is doing is helping me develop my self-understanding as a poet while helping me gain conscious awareness of some writing strategies which poets writing today use.
  • Profile image for Abhijeet Krishnan
    Abhijeet Krishnan

    Abhijeet Krishnan is taking this course right now.

    A highly engaging and entertaining course which goes into a good amount of depth on the formal art of poetry (but it perhaps could have gone a bit deeper). The instructor is energetic and charismatic and it is very easy to watch his videos. The writing prompts provided at the end of each week are varied and challenging, and focus on the particular aspect of poetry focused on for that week. Overall, a very worthwhile course for me.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course is excellent with serious content delivered in a clever (a little corny) way. The quizzes and assignments should not be taken lightly. I took copious notes throughout the course and when it was done, I went back and reviewed all the lessons.
  • Suzanne P Tyrpak

    Suzanne P Tyrpak is taking this course right now, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Going through the class on my own until it officially starts, I'm on week three. I've dabbled with writing poetry for years, but never took a formal class. Pieces of the puzzle are coming together for me in this informative and inspiring course, and my writing and comprehension of the form has already improved.

    Douglas Kearney is a wonderful teacher; concise, with a great sense of humor, he makes understanding poetry accessible and fun.
  • Katy S Waxbom
    The professor is wise as well as entertaining. He makes sense of the basics of poetry and keeps the attention of the student even while examining the differences between simile and metaphors. He chooses sample poems that are a wonderful examples of the points he is teaching each week. It was an amazing class and I learned a lot. I highly recommend it!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Focused and concise while remaining engaging and entertaining throughout. Excellent use of peer-assessed assignments with an active community of learners and mentors. Could have gone into more depth for my taste, but I think it absolutely excelled at what it set out to do-a quick and inspiring introduction to writing poetry.
  • Jackie Fox

    Jackie Fox completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Excellent course. I’ve taken undergraduate and graduate level poetry writing workshops and I learned about forms that were new to me. This course was the equivalent of anything I’ve taken. Doug Kearney is a very engaging and energetic instructor. The discussions and facilitators are great too. I highly recommend it.
  • Jennifer E. Rogers completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    I have written poetry for a number of years and taken a couple of classes in Creative Writing at my community college, but this class was very helpful in that it gave me another take on the same concepts, exposed me to new poetry, and used more modern examples as models. I found the basic concepts of poetry were well explained and the other students provided timely and helpful feedback.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    great class, well paced. the peer review process was ok up to a point, but my last assignment never got reviewed, and no one besides other students looked at my work.
    the lectures were easy to understand in digestible chunks, yet packed with good information and examples.
    I definitely recommend this class.
  • Profile image for Diane Schofield
    Diane Schofield

    Diane Schofield completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    I loved this course, it was presented really well and had lots of information new to me. It was easy to understand and I enjoyed the tasks. I felt inspired by the whole thing! Absolutely recommend and I hope he does another course!
  • Jason Podur

    Jason Podur completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Prof. made easy to understand and entertaining videos. Content was easily learned and applications challenging enough to be worthwhile. Great course to get you writing.
  • Joan Pasch completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    The teacher uses humor and silliness to get his points across. He introduces quite a lot of formal terms. A useful course.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Kudos to Douglas Kearly for having conducted this workshop! I had no clue,whatsoever,about poetry writing.i liked and loved the way he explained the nitty gritty of poem writing.he did not rush us which helped me sail through easily.Also,there never was a dull moment!learnt a lot ,beyond the rhyme scheme,which i thought was the only requisite of poetry writing.Thanks a ton for igniting my mind with the right perspective.God bless!
  • Robert Teszka completed this course.

  • Ardiningrum Wiratri Safira completed this course.

  • Luis Ovidio Ríos Guerra completed this course.

  • Polly Xu completed this course.

  • Matthew Murphy completed this course.

  • Alexandra Harris Mallory is taking this course right now.

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