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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.

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526 - 550 of 556 Reviews for Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop

By Susan W

Jun 6, 2016

I enjoyed the ideas, but the peer feedback was less than helpful.

By Shashank S

May 14, 2021

Nice Course. Gave good insights and motivation to write poems

By Michelle S

Jan 4, 2021

The prof is engaging, but it was not the course I needed.

By Niharika B

Oct 8, 2015

I am finding it really interesting and helpful. :)


Jun 27, 2020

Informative and creatively challenging.

By Enyang W

Apr 23, 2021

the lecturer was soo cool!

By Sumaiya A

Jul 23, 2016

very informative course.

By Dr.Halowine C

Jun 29, 2016

It is a riveting

By mario g

Nov 1, 2020

Excelente curso

By Xhanti M

Nov 19, 2015


By Brian B

Aug 13, 2021

Although the level of the course is very basic (it is definitely designed for total beginners), I appreciated the opportunity to write to a prompt and with a deadline, both of which kept me motivated. That said, the peer review system was a bit disappointing; it is important for people considering this class to understand that your workshop poems are ONLY reviewed by other people taking the class at the same time as you, so you are basically at their mercy. I appreciated most of the feedback I got, but I did have one peer reviewer who just wrote "nothing" in every single space where a written comment was required. This was a bit annoying since I had worked quite hard on the feedback that I provided for her!

I also must join the (many, many) other reviewers who have commented on the antics and silly energy of the instructor. While it was obvious that he was trying to keep the viewer engaged with all the jokes, banter, etc. I must admit it did get old... for several of the videos, I turned off the sound and just read the transcription.

I would recommend this class for people who want a very basic introduction to writing and appreciating poetry. More experienced writers might be less satisfied.

By Nguyen C C A

May 4, 2020

The course material, assignments, and the instructor are fine. The only problem I have with this is the "Peer-graded Assignment", while a lot of the time they are helpful, there is a handful of people who have no idea what they are doing. They do not read the instruction (as for grading) at all and give the wrong mark (as in technical requirement, not in whether the poem sounds good or not). For example, it said "give 2 points if response to the other prompt" and yet the "peer" give 0 point? Some people cannot read and their response show that they have no knowledge about certain types of poem and their feedbacks are even sometimes contradictory? This same problem occur in other courses as well so I will stop using Coursera due to its inttelligent "peer" grading syste.

By Carol M

Jun 17, 2020

I learned one thing from this course- that I write poetry in trochee, not iambs. I can't think of a poem that I've written that hasn't begun with a stress ... and emphasis. Best exercise of the course, for me, came in the Forms week. I gave writing in iambs a try and think that I should practice more as routine.

I have peer reviewed before and have found it helpful in revision. In this community, I'm not sure that all of its participants were familiar enough with poetics to closely review a poem. I would say that one reviewer would give insightful consideration of their read, and the second lacked experience in reading poetry.

With that said, learning one thing is learning something, so I was generally satisfied.

By Scott D

Nov 22, 2016

Doug's lectures were great! He's entertaining and he gets the concepts across very clearly. I struggled with the course itself, however. The participation rate was low and the iOS app was so buggy I deleted it. The web interface was better but still difficult to work with.

The iOS app would forget I was in the course and lose my assignments. It also wouldn't let me open the discussion forums. With the technical problems and low participation I can only give the course 3/5.

By Victoria B

Jul 6, 2019

I think this course is good if you're just starting out and want to know the basics. But it's not a great course for more advanced students. The peer graded assignments are a gamble because some people fail to understand what the assignment actually is before they try to grade your assignment. Also, I don't like how certain sections are heavily focused on rhythm and rhyme. This course isn't really geared toward free verse poets.

By Elizabeth D

Aug 1, 2016

The annotations of the different poems were great and taught me a lot about different poetic elements, but the lectures were unbearably corny with all of the different sound effects and bits. I found myself reading the transcripts because I could not watch the videos without feeling like I was being talked down to or that the instructor didn't take the course seriously.

By Samantha A

Sep 9, 2015

Not as much creative flexibility as I thought there would be. Writing to prompts left very little room to create poetry that felt like my own. Good short course (knocked it out in a couple of days) for revising/learning techniques.

By Stefan W

Sep 6, 2020

This course seems to be aimed at absolute beginners. If you don't know what a rhyme is, this "workshop" is definitively worth your time. Else, there may be better investments.

By Hari K D V

Oct 28, 2017

there's got to be more poems, more reviews. 1 poem to be reviewed makes the brilliant course flippant

By Jennifer F

Sep 5, 2020

ok. some tools are missing, like a resource page referred to by the instructor.

By Liz A

May 21, 2018

A stimulating course. Great online interaction with tutors. Some great links.

By Priyanka D

Jul 5, 2021

L​earnt a lot about writing poetry. Realised there's still a lot yet to learn

By Garrison G

Sep 1, 2017

The course could have used more content. That is, it is too brief.

By Tonya

Sep 21, 2015

Elementary and entertaining with some unique and creative prompts.