Life in Verse: An Introduction to Writing and Editing Poetry

When we catch a glimpse of something marvellous, encounter deep suffering or can’t express a moment in prose, we often turn to poetry. This course will introduce you to reading and writing contemporary poetry, with a focus on helpful practices and common pitfalls in composing poems and verse.

We will engage with the work of established writers, learn to identify forms and structure, and discuss what works and what doesn’t in a given piece of writing. We’ll focus on craft and the creative life, and give time to the process of submitting poetry for publication. Through in-class exercises, readings and creative projects, you’ll be equipped with a toolkit for generating and moderating your own works-in-progress.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2019. Valuable for both new and repeat students.

A $60 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Identify the fundamental elements of a poem
  • Discuss and ask questions of poems
  • Use creative prompts as a jumping off point for writing
  • Apply editing practices to your own poetry

Learning methods

You will learn through a combination of discussion and in-class writing excercises. For Liberal Arts Certificate for 55+ students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1

Class introductions, and a lecture on reading and talking about poetry. An overview of the current poetic landscape, and the building blocks that make a successful poem.

Week 2

A lecture on writing poetry, helpful tips and tricks for cultivating a creative life.

Week 3

A deep dive into editing poetry, how to approach and shape a poem once it exists in the world.

Week 4

The fundamentals of form poetry. A lecture on the challenges and benefits of applying rules to an idea, how forms can enhance a concept through repetition and structure.

Week 5

Appearing in print; how to submit to literary magazines. Materials and advice on assembling poetry submissions, and an overview of publishing in Canada.

Week 6

Where can poetry take you; a lecture on presenting written work. Poetry exists both to be read and read aloud. Class time will be devoted to helpful practices in presenting poetry to listeners.

Books, materials and resources

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

Academic integrity and student conduct

You are expected to comply with the Simon Fraser University’s Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Policies. Please click here for more details. Simon Fraser University is committed to creating a scholarly community characterized by honesty, civility, diversity, free inquiry, mutual respect, individual safety, and freedom from harassment and discrimination.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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