Chevron Left
Back to Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop by California Institute of the Arts

1,365 ratings
552 reviews

About the Course

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....

Top reviews

Jun 22, 2020

This was a superb workshop. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and learned a lot that came in my way. Grasping poetry devices taught in such an fun way was really awesome. The mentors were very supportive.

Jun 11, 2020

Loved the course. Douglas Kearney is amazing as an instructor. I love poetry and this workshop has made me happy during the times of COVID 19. I thank CalArts for the encouragement and appreciation.

Filter by:

51 - 75 of 556 Reviews for Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop


Jul 20, 2021

It was an incredibly insightful experience. I have been writing poems for as long as I can remember, but through this workshop, I learned about the intricacies of poetry in-depth. I stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote in styles I had never explored before. A big thank you to Douglas Kearney for this course and his creative and engaging teaching style. I can't wait to use the learnings from this course to enhance my work going forward.

By Matthew Y

May 27, 2020

As someone who is has no experience in creative writing classes, this course was an excellent introduction to writing poetry. While it was accessible to a beginner, I could see more advanced students of poetry being able to benefit from the course as well. This is because the prompts and assignments allow you to work at your own levels of experience and are very user friendly in that regard. I could not recommend this course highly enough!

By Ana P K C F

Dec 19, 2019

This has been one of my favorite courses so far. Douglas Kearney is such an amazing professor. He explains the subjects in a fun but yet deep way. It has been an honor to get to now more about poetry alongside his teachings, the works of the amazing American writers mentioned in this course and, of course, through my colleagues' works. I hope I can join future courses taught by Mr. Kearney, online or better yet in person at CalArts.

By Anna M

Mar 14, 2016

This is a great course with lots of information about the tools you need when crafting great poetry. I love the weekly writing prompts; they were very helpful in getting me back into the rhythm of writing. The discussion board was also a nice play to hang out and exchange thoughts about poetry and to give and receive critique from my peers. I recommend this course to anyone, at any level, who is interested in writing poetry.

By Sarah T

Jul 24, 2020

This instructor really brought his A game when it came to being engaging in the video segments. I usually get bored with the video modules in these course, but not here! The assignments were fun and inspiring. Sharpened Visions is an outstanding "get your feet wet" opportunity for those who consider themselves non-writers (like me) and I would imagine to be a useful exercise for actual writers of all stripes -- poets or not.

By Marissa C

Aug 17, 2017

This professor is very lively and makes the learning entertaining. I can understand vocabulary words much easier the way Mr. Kearney presents them. Thus far, his writing prompts have been quite unique and very fun to do. This is a challenge for me personally as I am not well-versed in writing or understanding poetry but I have a great feeling I will have a much better grasp of it by the time I fully complete the course.

By Diane V

Jul 21, 2016

I really loved this course! I have always loved reading poetry and have tried my hand at it periodically over many years. I learned a lot , wrote some poems that I like, and most of all enjoyed the teacher so very much. He made it so much fun, that I found myself laughing out loud several times. The workshop idea was also good, and I learned from reading the others' poems. Thank you for this course. !

By Rowan L

Jun 11, 2016

Fantastic course. I'm not very good at actually completing MOOCs (something about not having to answer to anyone, I suspect!) but the reviewing of classmates' work was done nicely, enough pressure to mean the assignments actually got done, without requiring an unreasonable amount of time. Douglas is a fantastic teacher and really inspiring; the course has revitalised my writing in just the way I needed!

By Shaima E

Oct 8, 2020

It has really been such a pleasure to learn from Douglas. I enjoyed the course thoroughly. The peer-reviewing process was also great. I always looked forward to reviewing my peers work, and have often been awed by the works they did. It has also been a great pleasure to receive constructive feedback and appreciations form the others. I hope there'll be more courses launched under Douglas and CALARTS.

By Nivey R

Jun 29, 2021

​Douglas has a great way of explaining poems and poetic techniques as they effectively stick to my memory. He is here to tell that literature and poetry is enjoyable and fun at times, and I am so glad I enrolled into this course as it helped me learn a number of new ways to experiment and pen down my thoughts! This is one course I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in writing.

By Kevin J

Jan 30, 2016

I really enjoyed the course. I always wanted to do a course in poetry, but this is my first opportunity to do so. The course was well put together, the information explanations and the lecturers method of delivery kept you awake and attentive. He was quite dramatic but it was essential and effective. Thanks for putting it together, I learned alot and feel more confident about my poetry writing.

By Katy S

Aug 8, 2016

This is one of the most enjoyable classes I've taken on Coursera, and it's all Douglas Kearney's fault. *grins* From day one, he has made this class fun, challenging and ever-interesting, and I feel like he has helped me get back into writing poetry. I would most certainly take more of his classes on here, and if I ever went to California for school, I would love to be in his classes.

By Karly G

Jan 15, 2017

I loved the way our awesome, fun prof. Kearney spoke animatedly but slowly enough to keep students both entertained and on pace. This course was a wonderful balance of ease and challenge, and I am leaving it with a few good poems, a better understanding of techniques and tools, new skills, and a reinvigorated love and interest in poetry. Much thanks to Douglas, CalArts and Coursera.

By Iman L

May 21, 2020

Incredibly useful introductory poetry course. The pace is great, allowing to start slow and then pushing you a little harder towards the middle-end. Doug is an excellent video tutor, his performance really adds depth to what you're learning on at every turn. Thanks! I now feel a lot more confident to carry on learning and writing. Ah, and the shared tools, websites, etc. are ace.

By Barun K S

Jul 1, 2017

This six weeks of exciting journey is a must for anyone interested in poetry. Here, I learned about the intricate details of poems, such as sounds, forms, and rhythms. However, the real reward was the feedback from mentors and other fellow poets, which helped me look at my writings from a new angle. Besides, hardly anyone delivers lectures as passionately as Prof. Kearney!

By Vincent F A G

Sep 18, 2017

The course offered a wonderful chance to concentrate on the nuts and bolts basic to the art of poetry, such as rhythm and rhyme. Beyond that I found the chance to gain some feedback and interact with other writers a real boon. The professor is clever and provides graphic lectures and assignments that make the class something to which I looked with anticipation each week.

By Danielle P

Dec 20, 2017

I really enjoyed this course. Prof. Kearney is great. He is extremely knowledgeable and explains things in such a clear, entertaining way. I also enjoyed the poems he chose to illustrate different topics. The course was very accessible and not too difficult or time-consuming, but I still learned a lot and found the writing prompts helpful. Thank you, Professor Kearney!

By Cheryl L

Aug 28, 2020

This was an excellent course. I enjoyed the videos and the assignments. The course was well paced and easy to follow. Thank you so much Prof. Kearney, for giving me the opportunity to learn from your expertise. I'm going to try writing different forms of poetry and not be satisfied that my poem is finished until I have REVISED it. Thank you again.

Cheryl Licata

By Jess R T

Aug 7, 2016

I found this course helpful especially because I'm in the process of revising my manuscript. I found the lessons on revision strategies were great reminders to take the time with my work, have patience with myself, maintain objectivity with my own work just as much as with that of others, and remain receptive to feedback at every stage of my poetry writing journey.

By james h

Sep 30, 2017

Superb introduction to poetry. Throws you right in, dangles the history and language of it in front of you, up to you whether you bite. The assignments are designed to make you think, make you create, but some of the options such as write a lipogram, or use a formal structure are actually very challenging.

I thought it was very immersive and it made me feel good.

By Randy P O

Aug 12, 2016

Prof. Douglas Kearney is an excellent and entertaining instructor with a lot of wisdom to impart. He engages the subject matter with attention grabbing vitality and spirit. I appreciated the both modern and historic use of poetry to illustrate his points. The workshop revitalized my poetry skills, which were more than a bit rusty previous to taking the class.

By Michelle A

Jul 10, 2021

This course taps into your weaknesses and provides incredible insight into them. In doing this, the course is engaging, constructive, and exemplarary. I highly recommend this to those who have a great experience with poetry and those who have yet to immerse into the art. Take great time in this course, and you will be reciprocated with progress beyond measure.

By Lisa J D

Jul 23, 2020

Excellent beginners poetry class. The instructor Doug Kearney was entertaining and gave lots of information in a way that was easy to understand.’His prompts were creative and inspiring and his selection of poems as examples were really great. I would recommend this to anyone interested in writing poetry and in learning to read poetry with more understanding.

By Nneoma

Aug 26, 2015

Seriously, every person needs to take this course! I gained such a deeper appreciation and understanding of the art of poetry and have even submitted the two poems I workshopped here, 'Old Ghosts' and 'The Toenail and the Horn-Bowl' for publication. No matter the outcome, I know I will continue to write, as I have fallen in love with the art. Great work Doug!

By Isabelle J

Sep 8, 2015

Loved this course. It was really informational and Douglas Kearney did a WONDERFUL job in teaching!!! :) I highly recommend it to anyone who loves to read and write poetry and to people who want to learn and get new skills and ideas in the art of poetry writing. :) Because you will get all of that, if you are willing to put your best foot forward and try. :)