California Institute of the Arts
Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop
California Institute of the Arts

Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop

Taught in English

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135,831 already enrolled


Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Douglas Kearney

Instructor: Douglas Kearney


(1,732 reviews)

Beginner level
No prior experience required
8 hours to complete
3 weeks at 2 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

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There are 6 modules in this course

Poetry orchestrates its music, arguments, tensions, and environment via arrangements of language into lines and stanzas. This week we’ll address the importance of the line break, perhaps the most conspicuous, signature tool in the poet’s toolkit. Do you break more for sound, for sense, visual effect, shape, a mix of several? We’ll participate in several line break exercises and remix found poems. Also: prepare for your first quiz and a fun first writing prompt.

What's included

8 videos6 readings1 quiz

Abstraction doesn’t mean “deep,” and image doesn’t mean “picture.” Images are typically understood as anything you can literally touch/taste/see/hear/smell, and abstractions are those things for which we have symbols (a clock for “time,” a heart for “love”) but no image. Abstractions and images may fill our poems, but how can you tell what’s what, and how can you leverage them to compelling ends? This week we’ll work at finding new symbols to replace clichéd ones for abstractions and we’ll work at crafting images that do more than add furniture to a poem, but create systems of relationships, moods, and even style.

What's included

5 videos1 reading1 quiz

Most of us think of simile and metaphor, personification and other similar figures of speech as being about similarities between objects, concepts, and entities. But the juice in these formulas comes from how different the two things being compared seem to be. This is why writing: “the shark moved like a fish” is, alone, a lot less interesting than saying “the shark moved like a squad car.” We’ll talk about how playing with difference via juxtaposition can create a range of poetic effects. Then you’ll write a poem built of one robustly developed or several contrasting juxtapositions. We'll end this module with yet another quiz, and our first poetry workshop -- facilitated through a peer assessed assignment.

What's included

5 videos1 reading1 quiz1 peer review

This week we’ll explore how rhyme leverages patterns of sameness and how we can estrange similarity for compelling poetic effects. We’ll check out examples of “rhyme”—sonic, visual, conceptual—from outside of poetry too.

What's included

5 videos1 reading1 quiz

All spoken language has rhythm, the trick is working the rhythm in such a way that drives your poem toward the effects you’re after. Maybe you want a fluid, seductive, propulsive rhythm. Perhaps something that halts or stutters. We’ll use traditional western concepts of meter as a means to open the door to this discussion, but we may leave them at the door upon entry.

What's included

6 videos1 reading1 quiz1 peer review

When you revise a poem, you are not trying to dull the emotional flash of your first draft. You must, instead, intensify it. In this, our final week, we’ll discuss the difference between revision and editing, the art of reading your own work critically, and the beauty of drafts. For your final peer review, you’ll turn in (and in turn, assess) a revision of one of the poems from the preceding 5 modules.

What's included

11 videos1 reading1 peer review


Instructor ratings
4.9 (536 ratings)
Douglas Kearney
1 Course135,831 learners

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