Introduction to Poetry

Poetry is the oldest and most diverse of literary forms, working with language at its most fundamental levels. All writers, be they poets, novelists, memoirists, or screen-writers are best prepared to approach their craft if they have a firm understanding of how language is used in a poem.

In this introductory course, we will study poetic language from the syllable up (rhythm, pacing, metre, rhyme, alliteration, etc.) through the lens of long-lasting and emerging poetic forms. In the process, we will consider how to write vibrant sentences in all genres, and also the structures in poetry that endure, and that we can see replicated in fiction, creative-non-fiction, and beyond.

If you are interested in writing poetry, or in figuring out how poetry’s deep attention to language can enrich your other writing, then this is the course for you.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - Rob Taylor $325.50 2 Register
Online - Rob Taylor $325.50 2 Register

Schedule clarification: This course begins on the first date listed and ends six days after the last date listed. Between those times, you work at your own pace within the timelines set by the instructor.

Course Schedule

  • Session 1: Introduction to poetic form and language
  • Session 2: Down to the syllable: minialism and the power of description
  • Session 3: Walking and running: rhythm, pacing and surprising turns
  • Session 4: Associative leaps: the joy of filling in the blanks
  • Session 5: Obsession, repetition and the Hero's Journey: saying the same thing, transformed
  • Session 6: Welcoming the world: how to bring other voices into your work

What will you learn?

By the end of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Identify forms in poetry and apply them to your own work
  • Understand the rhythm and movement inherent to many successful poems
  • Strengthen your craft in any literary genre through applying poetic techniques
  • Read contemporary and classic writers to inform your own writing
  • Give and receive supportive feedback with fellow writers

How will you learn?

  • Course content will be accessed via SFU’s online course management system, Canvas.
  • You will read poetry and prose works that highlight the discussion content for each lesson’s themes.
  • You will engage in discussions with your instructor and fellow students around the central themes of each lesson.
  • You will complete biweekly writing assignments online (mostly poems) and submit them via Canvas.
  • Your instructor will provide comments and suggestions on each piece that you write.
  • You and your classmates will provide additional feedback to one another via Canvas.

How will you be evaluated?

  • A pass/fail grade will be based on your participation and assignments.

Textbooks and learning materials

The following textbooks are required for this course. You may purchase them from the SFU Bookstore or from your preferred local or online bookstore.

Braid, K. & Shreve, S. In Fine Form: A Contemporary Look at Canadian Form Poetry. Caitlin Press. ISBN-10: 1927575486, ISBN-13: 978-1987915020.

Taylor, R. What the Poets are Doing. Harbour Publishing. ISBN-10: 0-88971-343-X, ISBN 13: 978-0-88971-343-7.

Hardware and software requirements 

We deliver this course using SFU's online course management system, Canvas. You will receive course details and Canvas access instructions on the first day of the course. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.

New to online learning? See Online Programs and Courses for helpful videos and additional information.

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