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Poem Sampler

The Art of Poetry with Robert Pinsky

An online course led by the former poet laureate

In conjunction with Boston University and edX, Robert Pinsky is teaching a free, six-week online poetry course, which launched on March 29, 2016. Register for the course here. The class covers a wide range of material, from classics by Ben Jonson and Emily Dickinson to work by contemporary poets such as Elise Partridge and Yusef Komunyakaa. According to Pinsky, “this course is based on the conviction that the more you know about an art, the more pleasure you will find in it.” Enjoy a preview by watching these brief lecture and conversation videos:



Rather than following particular schools of poetry or trends, the lectures, discussions, and readings of the course focus on elements of the art itself, from poetry’s historical relation to courtship to the techniques of sound in free verse.

Take a look at some of the many poems covered in the course.

Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

His Excuse for Loving” by Ben Jonson

At the Fishhouses” by Elizabeth Bishop

Chemo Side Effects: Memory” by Elise Partridge

Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thoughts about the Person from Porlock” by Stevie Smith

How We Heard the Name” by Alan Dugan

Th'Expense of spirit in a waste of shame” by William Shakespeare

Nick and the Candlestick” by Sylvia Plath

Sea Rose” by H.D.

Eros Turannos” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Question” by May Swenson

Sailing to Byzantium” by William Butler Yeats

Enough” by Katie Peterson

Sonnet in Search of an Author” by William Carlos Williams

This course makes use of the Poetry Foundation's poet bios and glossary of poetic terms

Robert Pinsky is the author of 19 books, his most recent including his Selected Poems and the anthology Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters (read the excerpts “The Pursuit of Form” and “Freedom in Poetry” in our Learning Lab). As U.S. Poet Laureate (1997-2000), he founded the Favorite Poem Project, with a growing video library at favoritepoem.org, with Americans of various professions and ages reading aloud and commenting on poems by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath and others. In 2013 he partnered with the Poetry Foundation to create Favorite Poem Project: Chicago and next year Favorite Poem Project: Florida. His new book of poems, At the Foundling Hospital, will be published next October. 


Poem Sampler

The Art of Poetry with Robert Pinsky

An online course led by the former poet laureate


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