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Intro

Coursera: Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”)

 with  Al Filreis
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ModPo is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, with an emphasis on experimental verse, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly "difficult." We encounter and discuss the poems one at a time. It's much easier than it seems! Join us and try it!

Even though we are currently in our offseason ("SloPo"), you are welcome to enroll now. You will have access to the entire ModPo site. Explore; meet some ModPo'ers who are conversing in the site year-round; read poems and watch videos. Then join us again when the intense "symposium mode" starts up again in September.

Yes, the next live, interactive 10-week session of ModPo will begin on September 9, 2017, and will conclude on November 20, 2017. Al Filreis will be in touch with you by email before the September 9 start of the course with all the information you'll need to participate. If you have questions, you can email the ModPo team at modpo@writing.upenn.edu.

During the 10 weeks of the course, you will be guided through poems, video discussions of each poem, and community discussions of each poem. And (unique among open online courses) we offer weekly, interactive live webcasts. Our famed TAs also offer office hours throughout the week. We help arrange meet-ups and in-site study groups.

If you are curious about the ModPo team, type "ModPo YouTube introduction" into Google or your favorite search engine, and watch the 20-minute introductory video. You will get an overview of the course and will meet the brilliant TAs, who will be encountering the poems with you all the way to the end.

If you use Facebook, join the always-thriving ModPo group: from inside Facebook, search for "Modern & Contemporary American Poetry" and then request to be added as a member. If you have any questions about ModPo, you can post a question to the FB group and you'll receive an almost instant reply.

We tweet all year long at @ModPoPenn and you can also find ModPo colleagues using the hashtag #ModPoLive.

ModPo is hosted by—and is housed at—the Kelly Writers House at 3805 Locust Walk on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia USA. All ModPo'ers are welcome to visit the Writers House when they are in our area. Our discussions are filmed there. Our live webcasts take place in the famed "Arts Cafe" of the House. To find out what's going on at the Writers House any time, just dial 215-746-POEM.

Syllabus

chapter 1.1 (week 1)—Whitman & Dickinson, two proto-modernists

Week 1 of ModPo 2017 runs from Saturday, September 9 at 9 AM through Sunday, September 17 at 9 AM. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 1 materials are open and available all year.

In this first week of our course, we'll encounter two 19th-century American poets whose quite different approaches to verse similarly challenged the official verse culture of the time. As a matter of form (but also of content), Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson were radicals. What sort of radicalism is this? In a way, this course is all about exploring expressions of that radicalism from Whitman and Dickinson to the present day. Such challenges to official verse culture (and often U.S. culture at large) present us with a lineage of ideas about art and expression, a tradition that can be outlined, mostly followed, somewhat traced. In this course, we follow, to the best of our ability — and given the limits of time — that tradition and try to make overall sense of it.

You will find that we do this one poem at a time. Here in week 1, we will explore Dickinson first, Whitman second, and then begin to sketch out the major differences between them, which, some say, amount to two opposite ends of the spectrum of poetic experimentalism and dissent in the nineteenth century. Which is to say: on the spectrum of traditional-to-experimental poetry, these two poets are on the same end (experimental); on the spectrum of experimentalism, their approaches can put them on opposite ends. In short, they offer us alternative poetic radicalisms, and their influences down the line (which we will explore in week 2) are both powerful but are also largely distinct. One question you'll be prepared to ask by the end of the course: Is the Dickinsonian or the Whitmanian tradition more ascendant and apt in today's experimental poetry?

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week, there are two quizzes due (see below); there are no writing assignments or peer reviews due. There is a live webcast on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at noon (Philadelphia time).



chapter 1.2 (week 2)—Whitmanians & Dickinsonians

Week 2 of ModPo 2017 runs from Sunday, September 17 at 9 AM through Sunday, September 24 at 9 AM. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 2 materials are open and available all year.

During this week, the second half of chapter 1, we will read the work of two poets writing in the Whitmanian mode and three poets writing in the Dickinsonian mode. We will encounter our Whitmanians, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg, again later in the course—Williams as a modernist and Ginsberg as a Beat poet. The Whitman/Williams/Ginsberg connection is a strong one; Ginsberg wrote directly in response to both Whitman and Williams and saw the lineage as crucial to the development of his approach. Our Dickinsonians are more disparate in their response to Dickinson’s writing. Of the three—Lorine Niedecker, Cid Corman, and Rae Armantrout—only the last could be said to be a direct poetic descendant of Emily Dickinson's aesthetic.

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week, there are two quizzes due and a writing assignment. Writing assignment #1 is open for submission between 9 AM on 9/18/17 and 9 AM on 9/24/17; after that, peer reviews will be submitted any time between 9 AM on 9/25/17 and 9 AM on 10/1/17. There is also a live webcast on Wednesday, September 20, at 10 AM (Philadelphia time).



chapter 2.1 (week 3)—the rise of poetic modernism: imagism

Week 3 of ModPo 2017 runs from Sunday, September 24 at 9 AM through Sunday, October 1 at 9 AM. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 3 materials are open and available all year.

Modernism in poetry had many beginnings; imagism marks just one. But in a fast introduction, this brief but influential movement gives us a good place to start. Imagists had no use for late Victorian wordiness, flowery figuration and “beautiful” abstraction. They rejected such qualities through staunch assertions demanding concision, concentration, precise visuality and a sort of super-focused emotive objectivity. In this first of four sections of chapter 2, we will ask ourselves whether each poem meets the impossible or nearly impossible standards set out by imagist manifestos. If any given poem “fails” to meet such standards, it is by no means a sign of “bad poetry.” But one way to learn about the rise of poetic modernism is to make discernments based on the poets' own (momentary) programmatic demands.

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week there are two quizzes due (see below). This is also the week in which peer reviews of writing assignment #1 are due. Peer reviews should be submitted any time between 9 AM on 9/25/17 and 9 AM on 10/1/17. There is also a live webcast on Wednesday, September 27, at 9 PM (Philadelphia time).



chapter 2.2 (week 3 cont.)—the rise of poetic modernism: Williams
Now in the second of four parts of our chapter on the rise of modernism—in the second part of week 3—we take a closer look at William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). We met Williams as a “Whitmanian” in chapter 1, the middle figure in a poetic line running from Whitman to Ginsberg. But that focus on him was a little misleading. The Williams of the late 1910s and 1920s was a poet fascinated by currents of formal experimentation—imagism, yes, but also Dadaism, cubism (especially drawing on innovations and painting) and a little later, objectivism. It's not the purpose of this course that we learn what all these “-isms” mean. Rather, let's start with a few poems by Williams that befit the imagist moment, and go from there. Quickly we'll find that Williams (always aesthetically restless) was interested in a writing that might capture the dynamism of its modern subject matter and was (mostly) willing to face problems created by traditional approaches to description and portraiture. When these conventions seemed to him to fail, he was prepared to include such failure in the poem itself—disclosing the troubled process of representation.

chapter 2.3 (week 4)—the rise of poetic modernism: Stein

Week 4 of ModPo 2017 runs from Sunday, October 1 at 9 AM through Sunday, October 8 at 9 AM. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 4 materials are open and available all year.

Gertrude Stein's contribution to modernist poetry and poetics cannot be overstated, so now, in the third section of chapter 2, we turn to her, spending the better part of week 4 of our course on a selection of her supposedly “difficult” writings. The difficulty of deriving any sort of conventional semantic meaning from the short prose-poems that comprise Stein's Tender Buttons turns out for many readers to be a helpful inducement to look for other kinds of signifying. As we hope you'll see from the video discussions in this section, such difficulty need not excuse us from close reading. Stein's poems really can be interpreted. They might reject representation, but by no means do they turn away from reference. The hard work you do in this part of chapter 2 will be amply rewarded when we get to chapter 9. Stein is a particular influence on John Ashbery in chapter 8, but she is a crucial influence on nearly every poet we'll read in chapter 9. As a matter of fact, here in chapter 2 we have a chance to listen to Jackson Mac Low (a chapter 9 poet) talk about why he finds Stein's opaque and difficult Tender Buttons so nonetheless meaningful. And we hear Joan Retallack (another chapter 9 poet) paying homage to Stein's “Composition as Explanation.”

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week there are two quizzes due (see below). There is also a writing assignment due. Writing assignment #2 should be submitted any time between 9 AM on 10/2/17 and 9 AM on 10/8/17; after that, peer reviews will be submitted any time between 9 AM on 10/9/17 and 9 AM on 10/15/17. There is also a live webcast on Thursday, October 5, at 6:30 PM (London time) — we will be coming to you live from London, England, and we welcome ModPo’ers in or visiting the area to join us!



chapter 2.4 (week 4 cont.)—the rise of poetic modernism: modernist edges
"The Baroness" (Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven) was way out there. But because she so intensely embodied modernist experimentalism, our effort to learn something about her life and writing is an apt way, in part, to end our brief introduction to poetic modernism from roughly 1912 to 1929. The three instances of modernist extremity we will encounter in chapter 2.4 are very different expressions of “High Modernism.” Well, the Baroness was certainly high on highballs when she wrote the poem we'll read — or rather, her language remarkably simulates a reeling discombobulation, such that its critique of 1920s-style commercialism (not in itself unusual at the time) has a very sharp edge. She was “New York Dada” epitomized, while Tristan Tzara's ideas about cutting up newspapers to form “personal” poems were, among his many other radical notions, crucial to the Dadaist import. And John Peale Bishop, with whom we will end our two weeks of chapter 2? Well, as you'll see, Bishop's is another story altogether; his sonnet sets us up for our approach to doubts about modernist antics as expressed by the poets of chapters 3, 4 and 5.

chapter 3 (week 5)—communist poets of the 1930s

Week 5 of ModPo 2017 covers chapters 3, 4, 5 & 6 and runs from Sunday, October 8, starting at 9 AM, to Sunday, October 15 at 9 AM (Philadelphia time). For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 5 materials are open and available all year.

Chapter 3 is a very brief look at communist poetry of the 1930s. These were years of economic crisis — the Depression. Like most other people, poets felt the urgency induced by privation, lack of opportunity, segregation and desperation. But poets had all along been inclined toward social as well as aesthetic experimentalism, and as they could write effectively, many felt they could be useful in the larger effort to find solutions — some modestly reformist, some more extreme — to the nation's and the world's huge problems. When the Depression set in, many poets embraced radical critiques of the economic status quo, and some even joined revolutionary groups such as the Communist Party of the United States. Such ideological journeys were often quite brief, however, and most once-Communist poets regretted joining the Party later, and said so. One of the myths created in the 1950s is that all modernist poets had repudiated modernism's embrace of opaqueness, indirection and self-referentiality and had decided suddenly to write clearly and “transparently” so that masses of people could understand their language. This is not true — many pre-1930s modernists continued to write in experimental modes and remained committed to cubism, surrealism, Dadaism, etc., as well as joining radical political causes. But for our purposes in this very brief chapter 3, we look at two poets whose poems might be said to contain radical content but to deliver that content in traditional — one might even say conservative — forms. What can we make of this apparent contradiction or irony? What can we learn here about modernism's relation to political life?

ASSIGNMENTS: During week 5 (covering chapters 3, 4, 5 & 6), there are two quizzes due (see below). There are no writing assignments due. Peer reviews of writing assignment #2 are due and should be submitted anytime between 9 AM on 10/19/17 and 9 AM on 10/15/17. There is also a live webcast on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, at noon (Philadelphia time).



chapter 4 (week 5 cont.)—the Harlem Renaissance
We continue ModPo week 5 with chapter 4 and Harlem Renaissance poetry. We look at poets whose concept of the relation between traditional stanza form and the content of racist hatred helps us understand the limits of formal experiment. For example, Harlem Renaissance writers such as Jean Toomer (in works like Cane) engaged a modernist sense of genre, and Sterling Brown closely studied and admired the modernist “New”-ness of Ezra Pound even though Brown chose to write his own poems in rhymed blues verse and sometimes vernacular "folk" language. Claude McKay's strategic use of the Shakespearean sonnet is as powerful a refusal of free verse as can be found anywhere — his sense of the complicated inheritance of English prosody will come back to us at the very end of the course (watch for it in week 10). Countee Cullen uses the ballad form to similar effect, and for similar reasons. These poets, and others such as Langston Hughes, emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, but the influence of what was called “The New Negro” artistic renaissance (after the anthology compiled by Alain Locke) extended well beyond its time and deeply influenced later poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks, whose poems “truth” and "Boy Breaking Glass" we will also read and discuss here in chapter 4. Brooks's idea of the truth is honored but also challenged, in turn, by a poet still later associated with the Black Arts movement: Etheridge Knight. Knight's response to Brooks (discussed in the PoemTalk episode linked to this week's syllabus) both reveres Brooks and at the same time urges further progress, just as Brooks's “truth” had revered and also moved beyond the McKay/Cullen mode. In "Boy Breaking Glass," Brooks understands a young man's "cry for art" as requiring a sympathetic modernist fragmentation in her own poem. Poetic influences are cultural ripples, never more so than here — an emanation but also a widening. Langston Hughes's “Dinner Guest: Me” is partly about how such ripple effect and communality sometimes must be taught. And because it must be taught, we felt it apt to add a special video (prepared for ModPo's Teacher Resource Center) on how teachers might teach that challenging poem by Hughes.

chapter 5 (week 5 cont.)—Frost
We continue ModPo week 5 with chapter 5. Robert Frost is widely considered a major modern American poet, but in fact his relationship to modernism is mostly antagonistic. In our series of short chapters featuring poets’ doubts about aspects of the modernist revolution, we consider just one poem by Frost — "Mending Wall" — for its frank but also witty way of raising the issue of subject-object relations. The speaker and a second figure find themselves on either side of a wall. Should that wall come down? Does Frost’s answer to that question have anything to do with his famous anti-modernist complaint — that free verse is “like playing tennis without a net”? We also offer a video recording of a ModPo-hosted symposium in which four poets debate Frost's wall.

chapter 6 (week 5 cont.)—formalism of the 1950s
We conclude ModPo week 5 with chapter 6. There are several ways of looking generally at U.S. poetry in the postwar (post-World War II) period, 1945-60. No single generalization will do, but our course implies two main trends. First, there was a retrenchment, a “coming home,” a consolidation — a mainstreaming of modernism and for some, a new formalist (or "neo-formalist") reaction against what was deemed to be modernist experimental excess. This consolidation coincided with a general renewed cultural conservatism or quietism, generally understood as caused or aided by several factors: fears of communism, concerns about women who had entered the wartime workplace and were now expected to resume domestic life, the apparent ease of daily life during a time of economic growth, the "massification" of university education, the flight from cities, and the suburbanization of values and lifestyle. For some, this meant assuming modernist gains — free verse, wide choice of subject matter, everyday diction — while suppressing radical experiment. For others, it meant an outright antimodernism, though it was now more conservative than the antimodernism of poets in chapters 3 and 5. The latter impulse expressed itself in a neo-classicist use of satire and irony — a kind of new Augustan poetics. Chapter 6 gives us a very brief look at this postwar neo-formalism. [] A second, very different, trend was the explosion of a new poetic radicalism fueled by a sometimes ecstatic and often antic negative response to the above-mentioned quietism and poetic conservatism. Drawing on the experimental spirit of modernism and sometimes celebrating the influence of individual modernist poets, this trend generally came to be known as the “New American” poetry. The Beats of chapter 7 and the New York School poets of chapter 8 are instances of this trend. There are other New American approaches and groupings, to be sure, but we will not have time to consider them except in passing references. First, let us quickly end week 5 — our rapid tour through the doubters and troublers of chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6 — with a glance at two neo-formalists: Richard Wilbur and X. J. Kennedy.

chapter 7 (week 6)—breaking conformity: the beats

Week 6 starts at 9 AM (Philadelphia time) on Sunday, October 15, 2017, and ends at 9 AM on Sunday, October 22, 2017.For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 6 materials are open and available all year.

The so-called “New American Poetry” that emerged in the late 1940s and 1950s went in many directions; some trends, styles, and approaches overlapped, while some were (or seemed to be) more distinct and separable than others. The “Beat” poets were a fairly distinct community of writers, making it easier than it would be otherwise to study as a coherent movement their ecstatic, antic, apparently anti-poetic break with official verse culture. Our approach, in just one week, looks at two “classic” Beats (Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac) and then quickly moves off to adjacent figures. Robert Creeley was not a Beat poet, but his most famous poem engages poetic, psychological, and social matters with which Ginsberg, Kerouac, and the others were obsessed. Anne Waldman is an “outrider” poet and is more closely associated with the second generation of “New York School” poets (see chapter 8), but she was a dear friend of Ginsberg and learned a great deal from his political pedagogy. Amiri Baraka, as Leroi Jones, was a Beat poet for a few years and then broke away. The poem by Baraka that we study here gives us a chance to look back on Countee Cullen's traditionally formal poetic response to racist hatred. The prose-poem/manifesto by Baraka on how poets (should) sound extends a theme already important to this chapter: the primacy of sound (or music) as a form of freedom from linguistic convention. Jayne Cortez gives us a perfect example of this and permits us to suggest connections among the Beat aesthetic, Black Arts, the influences of jazz, and the emergence of “spoken word” performance. Our focus on Jack Kerouac in chapter 7 is a little unusual — he, of course, is known more as a novelist than a poet. But his “babble flow” has been a significant influence on contemporary poets, more than his narrative fictional stance as psycho-social itinerant. We will have occasion, then, to examine and question Kerouac’s — and implicitly, Ginsberg’s — claim to be writing naturally spontaneous language. Our chapter 9 poets for the most part doubt such a claim.

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week there are two quizzes due (see below). There are no writing assignments due, nor peer reviews. There is a live webcast on Wednesday, October 18, at 5:30 PM (Philadelphia time).
chapter 8 (week 7)—the New York School

Week 7 starts at 9 AM (Philadelphia time) on Sunday, October 22, 2017 and ends at 9 AM on Sunday, October 29. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 7 materials are open and available all year.

Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, and Kenneth Koch represent the New York School of poets in this week of our course. We met Anne Waldman briefly in chapter 7 — from the “second generation” New York School. Now we add two others of that second generation: Ted Berrigan and Bernadette Mayer. Our super-close readings of Guest's “20” and Ashbery's “Some Trees” are intended, in part, to show that the non-narrative or anti-narrative styles of this group — and their propensity for sudden shifts in pronoun use, inconsistent imagery, and inside-the-community name dropping — nonetheless produce writing that can be interpreted line by line. During this week (a bare-minimum introduction to this playful postmodernity), we will get a bit of pastiche from Koch and several instances of O'Hara's I-do-this-I-do-that explorations of lunchtime, as well as examples of Ashbery's opaque lyricism, Guest's stunning memory-as-word associationalism, Berrigan’s anti-narrative as daily social resistance, and Mayer’s application of O’Hara’s exuberant attention to daily details to a woman’s life and language. Patrick Rosal's contemporary poem begins with an ensemble-voiced, present-tense, frenetic romp through New York City, very much influenced by O’Hara’s mode and sensibility. But then Rosal’s poem moves elsewhere, enacting diasporic return, and pushes the New York School style beyond its earlier categories by developing its own powerful synthesis of global concerns.

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week there are two quizzes due (see below). There is also a writing assignment due. Writing assignment #3 can be submitted anytime between 9 AM on 10/23/17 and 9 AM on 10/29/17; after that, peer reviews will be submitted anytime between 9 AM on 10/30/17 and 9 AM on 11/5/17. There is also a live webcast on Wednesday, October 25, at 3 PM (Philadelphia time).

For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 7 materials are open and available all year.

chapter 9.1 (week 8)—some trends in recent poetry: L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E

AN OVERVIEW OF THE FINAL THREE WEEKS OF MODPO: We spend our final three weeks surveying three related groupings of experimental poetry, covering recent decades to the present. In week 8 (chapter 9.1), we look at the so-called “Language Poetry” movement as it emerged in the San Francisco Bay area and New York in the 1970s and early 1980s. In week 9 (chapter 9.2), we turn to chance-generated and aleatory and quasi-nonintentional writing. In week 10 (chapter 9.3), we look at the recent emergence (or resurgence) of conceptual and appropriative — supposedly 'uncreative' — poetry. Several of the 9.2 poets follow directly from the innovations of the 9.1 Language poets. A few of the 9.3 conceptualists see themselves as breaking away from Language poetry and embrace a “post-avant” status, while others see a continuity from modernism through Language and aleatory writing to conceptualism. The extent to which all these poets — but especially the 9.1 and 9.2 poets — show their indebtedness to modernists such as Duchamp, Stein, Williams, and the proto-modernist Dickinson does suggest that our course is the study of a line or lineage of experimental American poetry continuing out of modernism.

Week 8 begins at 9 AM on Sunday, October 29, 2017 and ends at 9 AM on Sunday, November 5. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 8 materials are open and available all year.

By starting with Ron Silliman’s “Albany” and Lyn Hejinian’s 'My Life,' we focus on ways in which — and reasons why — Language poets refused conventional sequential, cause-and-effect presentations of the writing self. They imply that the self is languaged — formed by and in language — and that the self as written is multiple across time (moments and eras) and thus from paratactic sentence to paratactic sentence. While this radical revision of the concept of the lyric self (and of the super-popular genre of memoir) emphasizes one aspect of the Language Poetry movement at the expense of several other important ideas and practices, it is, we feel, an excellent way to introduce the group. Bob Perelman’s “Chronic Meanings,” aside from its contribution to this introduction, also picks up a theme of our course: the experimental writer attempts to encounter death (loss, grief, absence) by somehow making the form of the writing befit that discontinuity and disruption. We began this theme in chapter 2 with Stein's “Let Us Describe” and continued it in chapter 8 with O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died,” and we will proceed with Jackson Mac Low's “A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore” in chapter 9.2. Chapter 9.1 concludes with two poems from Harryette Mullen's book of intense alphabetical and lexicographical self-consciousness, Sleeping with the Dictionary. Mullen's talent is diverse, and her work could have appeared in weeks 8 or 9 or 10, but it's here because we hope some readers will sense an interesting relationship between Sleeping with the Dictionary and Hejinian’s My Life. We realize that the list below makes week 8 seem like a long one, but please note that we are asking you here to read just eight poems.

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week there are two quizzes due (see below). No new writing assignment is due. Peer reviews of writing assignment #3 are due. Peer reviews should be submitted anytime between 9 AM on 10/30/17 and 9 AM on 11/5/17. There is also a live webcast on Wednesday, November 1 at noon (Philadelphia time).
chapter 9.2 (week 9)—some trends in recent poetry: chance

Week 9 begins at 9 AM on Sunday, November 5, 2017 and ends at 9 AM on Sunday, November 12. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 9 materials are open and available all year.

When Jackson Mac Low put a body of language (for instance a poem by Gertrude Stein) through a rigorous procedure, he would say that he created (or “wrote”—in the sense of computer programming) the procedure and that the procedure then created the poem. One of his goals was to experiment with the elimination or evacuation or at least the suppression of poetic ego. In this sense his work stands alongside that of Silliman and Hejinian who (by other means) sought to question the stable lyric subject that had been for so long been associated with the writing of poetry, and with imagination generally. On this point the chapter 9 poets are unified in breaking from modernism's implicit and often explicit claim of creative, a-world-in-a-poem-making genius. But otherwise the aesthetic connection between, for instance, Mac Low and Stein is strongly positive. (Please note: during our filmed discussion on Mac Low's “A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore,” Al Filreis gets a little carried away when reading a list of words made from Moore’s name; neither the word “spicer” nor the phrase “this weekend” can be derived from those letters!)

ASSIGNMENTS: During this week there are two quizzes due (see below). There is also a writing assignment due. Writing assignment #4 should be submitted between 9 AM on 11/6/17 and 9 AM on 11/12/17; after that, peer reviews will be submitted any time between 9 AM on 11/13/17 and 9 AM on 11/19/17. There is also a live webcast on Wednesday, November 8, at 3 PM (Philadelphia time).



chapter 9.3 (week 10)—some trends in recent poetry: conceptualism & unoriginality

Week 10, our final week, begins at 9 AM (Philadelphia time) on Sunday, November 12, 2017 and ends at 9 AM on Sunday, November 19. We will then have a final day (November 19-20) to wrap up and say our final words. For those doing ModPo on their own or in small groups, the week 10 materials are open and available all year.

Not every artist we meet here claims to be part of a trend or movement now widely known as conceptualist poetics or uncreative writing. Some have at times embraced one or both of those terms: Kenneth Goldsmith, Christian Bok, Caroline Bergvall. Others, such as Rosmarie Waldrop, have been involved in appropriative and unoriginal practices for decades. Erica Baum is a photographer of found language who seems to thrive in the atmosphere created by the explicit conceptualists. Michael Magee is an original Flarfist, which some see as divergent from conceptualism but here at least seems certainly a cousin. Others we encounter in our final week (Jennifer Scappettone and Tracie Morris) are using unoriginality and linguistic borrowing and “writing through” for their own reasons and are creating distinct effects. But every artist in chapter 9.3 displays an intense virtuosity that defies what most people at first expect from writings made out of such an adamant rejection of creativity. We hope that despite the strangeness of it all you will find pleasure in watching them undertake their hyper-concentrated, seemingly impossible projects. What can look easy in such experimentalism is often demanding in the extreme. It's hard to imagine a better examples of this than 'Africa(n)' or 'Eunoia.'

ASSIGNMENTS: During the final week of the course, there are two quizzes due (see below). Peer reviews of writing assignment #4 are also due. Peer reviews should be submitted any time between 9 AM on 11/13/17 and 9 AM on 11/19/17. There is also a webcast on Wednesday, November 15, at 11:30 AM (Philadelphia time).



135 Student
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Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
Pace Upcoming
Subject Literature
Provider Coursera
Language English
Hours 5-10 hours a week
Calendar 10 weeks long
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135 reviews for Coursera's Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Jan Wenk Cedras completed this course.
This is by far the best class that I have taken in many years, both online or in person. Al Filreis is a superb teacher who has boundless enthusiasm, energy and insight. He is generous and thoughtful, inclusive and yet demanding in a positive thought provoking way. And the best part is that his love of the poems and th Read More
This is by far the best class that I have taken in many years, both online or in person. Al Filreis is a superb teacher who has boundless enthusiasm, energy and insight. He is generous and thoughtful, inclusive and yet demanding in a positive thought provoking way. And the best part is that his love of the poems and the poets we study not only encourages all of us to draw new conclusions about material that we may have been familiar with for years, but he shows us that he also continuously stays open to new ideas that are sparked by not only his TAs but many of the participants as well. Furthermore, in a class of 36,000 students, he makes it his job to not only start threads in the vast array of discussions in the forums, but also to come in and comment frequently. He's everywhere. I hope he gets some sleep when ModPo ends. But wait, no it doesn't end. Because the site and video discussions and forum discussions continue to stay operational all the way up to next fall, when I know that I will definitely sign up again. This is my first year in ModPo, since although I signed up last fall, I was in the process of moving across country and had limited time. So I hope to receive a certificate for this year, but I plan to come back to audit next year and the fact that I will not need to complete the compulsory coursework, I will be able to take full advantage of the discussions. I am also looking forward to Julia Bloch, poet, professor and lead TA lead a close reading through Bernadette Mayer's poem "Midwinter Day" next month. Another lovely extension of the ModPo experience is a group in the forums that is doing a close reading of Tender Buttons. And I will be able to continue to stay in contact with the ModPo community in the forums all the way to September '14. I am a poet and a lifelong learner. I definitely recommend this course for all levels as it is very inclusive and you can take what you can and participate at your (comfort) level. You can just audit it, or you can receive a certificate. There are all levels welcome, all ages and more than half of the participants live outside the US. Insomnia has its rewards. There is always someone awake and cogent in the middle of my night somewhere in this global class. A beautiful surprise is that some of the poets that we study are very accessible and participate in live webcasts. One in particular participated in a discussion thread on one of his poems. How incredible is that?
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful
2 years ago
S.e. Ingraham completed this course, spending 7 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I believe I did review this course when I first completed it in 2013. I am delighted to review it again after having completed it in 2014, and also in 2015 - although this year I helped out as a Community TA, which meant I did more peer reviewing and discussing - and didn't write any assignments or quizzes. Since I ear Read More
I believe I did review this course when I first completed it in 2013. I am delighted to review it again after having completed it in 2014, and also in 2015 - although this year I helped out as a Community TA, which meant I did more peer reviewing and discussing - and didn't write any assignments or quizzes. Since I earned a certificate of achievement in the first two years, this worked well for me and I was honored to be able to give something back to this very worthwhile course.

ModPo continues to draw students from all over the world - many of them, like me, "repeat offenders" - we joke about being addicted to this class, but it really is an experience like no other. I have taken a handful of other MOOC's now, so have some with which to compare this class - and while they all seem to be developing nicely - this one still continues to shine. Maybe it's the intimacy created by such a caring professor and his indefatigable TA's (if I'm not mistaken, they are the same ones he began the course with back in 2012). Prof Al Filreis and his group seem to get to know all 30,000+ of us, hear our needs, and somehow make sure every one of us is addressed.

In addition to imparting a great deal of knowledge about Modern and Post-modern American poets and poetry during these few months, I can attest first hand to the warmth that spills over the airwaves during the webcasts, and in the forums. When Filreis invites everyone to the Kelly Writers House on the University of Pennsylvania campus, he is being sincere. I had the opportunity to visit there this past October and was invited to sit in on a panel and discuss Gertrude Stein. Who am I to do such a thing? No-one really. Just another ModPo student, fortunate enough to take this class. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Even if you're not sure you like poetry, this is the place to explore the notion, discuss it, meet some intriguing people - you might be surprised. I know I was.

S.E.Ingraham

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
ModPo is a superb course in every respect. The video discussions model collaborative close readings, which I think is a real strength of the approach, and the forums are rich with every kind of discussion. The professor, Al Filreis, and TA staff are extraordinarily active, not just technically, but substantively, in th Read More
ModPo is a superb course in every respect. The video discussions model collaborative close readings, which I think is a real strength of the approach, and the forums are rich with every kind of discussion. The professor, Al Filreis, and TA staff are extraordinarily active, not just technically, but substantively, in the forums and in the Facebook group, and indeed, we communicate with them directly by name and they know an extraordinary number of our names, too. The attitude is one of co-learning from all sides--an Al Filreis mantra is "the wisdom is in the room." There are numerous live webcasts in which anyone can bring up anything they want about the week's subject matter (and they do!), the resource materials provided are enormous and generously available (they're available free to anyone inside or outside the course on an unlimited basis), and the effort among the staff to build and maintain a worldwide community of people excited about poetry is phenomenal. After the course ended "officially," the staff kept the entire coursera site open until the next iteration of the course started a year later. Discussions continued and friendships were made; many people, including from places as far away as Wales, made the pilgrimage to UPenn to participate "live" on webcast days. Absolutely anything you want to find out is there to dig in to in depth. It's an extraordinarily rich course--the single best educational experience I've had in my life.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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pomo58 completed this course.
I was an English major in school decades ago and leaned toward prose and theory, so I didn't give poetry any more time or effort than necessary. As a result, I was ignorant of a great deal of what it takes to appreciate poetry beyond the very basic, straightforward poem. This course has not only helped me to appreciate Read More
I was an English major in school decades ago and leaned toward prose and theory, so I didn't give poetry any more time or effort than necessary. As a result, I was ignorant of a great deal of what it takes to appreciate poetry beyond the very basic, straightforward poem. This course has not only helped me to appreciate the poetry we studied, but given me the confidence to approach poetry not covered by this course. The approach is accessible to all regardless of background, yet is still rigorous. While the professor's views are certainly expressed, they are not put forward as "THE" way to read a poem, but as A way to read a particular poem. Everyone from the TAs in the videos to every single student is encouraged to find his/her own way into each poem. I say every single student because, in addition to the forums where there are ongoing discussions (often including the TAs and the professor) but the staff also have virtual office hours so you can exchange ideas or ask questions and get an immediate response. Of the MOOCs I have taken in the Humanities, this combination of pedagogical approach and structure is by far the most conducive to teaching and encouraging. And in many MOOCs, it is the encouragement that is lacking.
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10 months ago
Bob Zahniser completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This course is GREAT! I was in the last session in 2016. If you're going for the certificate you have to write 4 essays of at least 500 words, and review 4 essays every time you submit an essay. There are online text forums for each poem covered and you need to interact in at least one of the week's forums for each w Read More
This course is GREAT! I was in the last session in 2016.

If you're going for the certificate you have to write 4 essays of at least 500 words, and review 4 essays every time you submit an essay. There are online text forums for each poem covered and you need to interact in at least one of the week's forums for each week of the class if you want to get the certificate. In the last few days of the class a bunch of comments started popping up in older forums as people raced to meet the requirement. The forums were quite lively and fun to participate in. There were weekly video sessions where the Professor and Teaching Assistants discussed the weeks poem's, and they took questions via phone, Facebook and on their website and responded to them. Watching them was always fun and engaging.

The class was a lot of work but well worth it. I learned a lot and enjoyed the experience.

I didn't answer the question about what level (Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced) the class was appropriate for because it is appropriate for ALL levels.

Great class and I highly recommend it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I have been a student of one kind or other for nearly seventy years, many of those at top universities. I can honestly say that ModPo is probably the best course I have ever had the pleasure of taking. Al Filreis and his TAs are extremely well prepared, well organized, and embracing of all who come to the course. Best Read More
I have been a student of one kind or other for nearly seventy years, many of those at top universities. I can honestly say that ModPo is probably the best course I have ever had the pleasure of taking. Al Filreis and his TAs are extremely well prepared, well organized, and embracing of all who come to the course. Best of all, they manage to communicate information and joy in poetry and language without reliance on the lecture format. I feel as if I'm part of a small seminar where ideas are freely exchanged, yet I have the advantage of having access also to the thousands of interesting people who are taking the course, via the forums and weekly webcasts. I look forward to the writing assignments because I always learn something from doing them and from the peer assessments that follow them. ModPo has become an important part of my life, and I will follow the lead of many others and take it again in 2014 because I want to build on what I've learned this year, and because I want to continue to be part of the amazing community that is ModPo.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Shirley Collins completed this course.
Being in this class is a rewarding, enjoyable, and challenging learning adventure led by a well-organized team. Al Filreis, teaching assistants, community teaching assistants, other staff, and students (national and international) are dedicated, insightful, and knowledgeable. Not only do Mr. Filreis and the TAs provide Read More
Being in this class is a rewarding, enjoyable, and challenging learning adventure led by a well-organized team. Al Filreis, teaching assistants, community teaching assistants, other staff, and students (national and international) are dedicated, insightful, and knowledgeable. Not only do Mr. Filreis and the TAs provide quick and frequent feedback, they hold office hours! Besides the syllabus, discussion videos (including transcripts), and discussion forums, the course features webcasts, invitations to Kelly Writers House as well as communication with living poets via the forums and webcasts. Additionally, discussion videos and webcasts are available on YouTube. Students must participate in the discussion sub-forums, complete several quizzes and a few essays (that are peer-reviewed). Those who know a lot about poetry and those who hardly know anything about it are comfortable in this class. The unbalanced camaraderie makes it an all-the-more pleasurable learning experience. Nothing is graded. Nothing is forced. Nothing is taken for granted.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
2 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) was the most engaging community of scholars and students actively in any online course I’ve ever taken. ModPo involves a “community" through the course materials, discussions, live television and radio shows, office hours, and mostly delving into the task of looking close Read More
Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) was the most engaging community of scholars and students actively in any online course I’ve ever taken. ModPo involves a “community" through the course materials, discussions, live television and radio shows, office hours, and mostly delving into the task of looking closely at poets and poetry in depth. A true community of learners has been ignited by Professors Al Filreis, Julia Bloch, and the entire staff who make this truly a worldwide community of engaged, interactive, and exciting learning. I can’t imagine anything better than ModPo is offered anywhere online or on campus (unless at Penn)! The Kelly Writer’s House on the Penn campus becomes home to all of us who participate wherever we are. I give my highest recommendation for this course. It is highly lively and intense for those who want to dig into an entirely new world for a few months. Others may pursue the material on a more leisurely schedule if desired and still receive a great deal of knowledge.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Raymond Maxwell completed this course.
I am taking ModPo for the second time this year, as are many of my newly found ModPo friends. That is a strong indication of the excellent quality of this course. The course traces the leading trends and movements in the world of modern American poetry, trends which, in many ways, presage social and political developme Read More
I am taking ModPo for the second time this year, as are many of my newly found ModPo friends. That is a strong indication of the excellent quality of this course. The course traces the leading trends and movements in the world of modern American poetry, trends which, in many ways, presage social and political developments in larger society. The course itself is taught in a "flipped" way, with the onus of and responsibility for learning place squarely on the student. The students who complete the course achieve a precious goal, a priceless prize, which explains why so many come back for more. No doubt, next year's offering will have many repeat "offenders." Be brave, be courageous, take ModPo! As they say at my favorite buffalo wings restaurant in Tallahassee, "you know you want some!"

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
2 years ago
Jackie Lubeck completed this course.
The only mooc I have come across where the teacher and the tracing assistants are easily available, are part of the discussions, always active, and always open to all participants who ask. The focus on modern and contemporary America. poetry centers this very large group of participants whi, in turn, bring a wealth of Read More
The only mooc I have come across where the teacher and the tracing assistants are easily available, are part of the discussions, always active, and always open to all participants who ask. The focus on modern and contemporary America. poetry centers this very large group of participants whi, in turn, bring a wealth of original, creative, thoughtful ideas in the very active forums. Lectures, webcasts, meet-ups, office hours, this is an online community where you find real friends in real life. And to bring this particular poetry to life in these days is a huge free gift to the intellect of all those who pass through the course. Imagine if the education systems could generate such a love of learning, discussion, debate. The credit goes to Professor Al Filreis who is the motor of the mooc. He, and his team, have made a growing source course of inspiration regardless of your profession or way of life or where you are in the world.
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11 months ago
Dilip Bhatt completed this course.
Yes. I have completed the ModPo course hosted by the University of Pennsylvania through Coursera app. It is a great course and I would like to recommend it for all students of literature and poetry. It is not merely a course but a rich amalgamation of audio, video and text materials. Allen Filreis and his team make a g Read More
Yes. I have completed the ModPo course hosted by the University of Pennsylvania through Coursera app. It is a great course and I would like to recommend it for all students of literature and poetry. It is not merely a course but a rich amalgamation of audio, video and text materials. Allen Filreis and his team make a good effort to make the course interesting, appreciative and enlivening. The unique thing about the course is that it runs throughout the year. I could do it within 8 weeks and getting 100 out of 100 Grades. More than the achievement in terms of Marks and Grades, I have thoroughly enjoyed the MOOC experience at ModPo. I'm greatly indebted to Al Filreis and his team for ingraining, nurturing, fostering a genuine interest among all the learners. He's more than a teacher. You feel more confident and comfortable with all the mentors and teaching fraternity at the ModPo. I heartily congratulate the Team.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
"When a hundred men stand together, each of them loses his mind and gets another one." - Friedrich Nietzsche Watching the introduction video, to what this class Promised to offer, I believed signing up would give me everything I was looking for and more. Zero doubt. At the time, I was writing poetry, again Read More
"When a hundred men stand together, each of them loses his mind and gets another one." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Watching the introduction video, to what this class Promised to offer, I believed signing up would give me everything I was looking for and more. Zero doubt.

At the time, I was writing poetry, again. This time as an adult, yet uneducated in reading and form. Intuitively called to read and learn, I had just begun my studies, when I discovered ModPo.

Now I am here, at the beginning of week 10. My time schedule allowed me to participate in about 45% of the course -- so far, as the accesses to these master teachings are available to me always.

In ModPo, I found myself is amongst free thinkers. Myself, I was inspired (and encouraged), to study and explore within the tremendous syllabus, and to investigate other sources of knowledge.

The promise was delivered and keeps on giving.
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2 weeks ago
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Christie Williamson completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
I started this course having loved poetry my whole life, written it, translated it, devoured books of it, spent as much of my life in and around it as I possibly could. Indeed I love it so much that I've never trusted a university with it. I've seen the best minds of my generation fucked up by their alma mater, and b Read More
I started this course having loved poetry my whole life, written it, translated it, devoured books of it, spent as much of my life in and around it as I possibly could. Indeed I love it so much that I've never trusted a university with it. I've seen the best minds of my generation fucked up by their alma mater, and believe me I was on the watch and straight out at the first glimmer of that happening.

The first time I took this course I got as far whatever week Stein was, and got frightened off. Not by Stein, but by the analysis. I think reading Stein is analytically challenging, and I enjoyed it, but I guess was kind of sated for analysis. I think it was a cultural thing, and there was a lot of sheer circumstance involved. And some things take some time to sink in. Poetry certainly does.

Revisiting the course two years later, the previously covered ground bings fresh rewards. And when I get to Stein, I relish the analysis.

To 'do' the full ten weeks of ModPo - which includes four essays, at least four peer reviews of each essay, weekly discussion forum posts is a lot. And boy is it wort that lot.

As a poet, my biggest fears in sharing critical and analytical reading techniques were 1) that saying what I thought wouldn't be enough, and that I'd have to try to sound like somebody I'm not and 2) that the well would choke dry.

2) is hilarious, laughable from here - having completed this, only the second mooc that's ever held me through its entire syllabus. Poetry has been oozing from me - a lot of it very directly flavoured by the material in the course but by no means all, and none of it without some me at the core, and discovering how to say what I think, and discovering that there are people out there who give a flying jacks ass what I think is pretty sweet medicine indeed.

Finally, it has made me broaden my reading horizons, and made me write about poetics. What more could a poet ask for?

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
at 62 this course changed my life when i took it last year and i am looking in still this year. i have health challenges but was able to enrich my life and jump start my brain from home. i am educated, former english and journalism teacher and attorney, but now feel cultured. Art, history, politics, etc. it helped my p Read More
at 62 this course changed my life when i took it last year and i am looking in still this year. i have health challenges but was able to enrich my life and jump start my brain from home. i am educated, former english and journalism teacher and attorney, but now feel cultured. Art, history, politics, etc. it helped my poetry writing but more-so my reading enabling appreciation of various periods of american poetry and better ability to critique others' poems in online workshop. i have my certificate framed and am very proud to have met the demands of this challenging course. Al and his TAs astound! They are intelligent and organized and somehow manage to stay in communication with the students on fb and the message boards. The diversity and sharing of knowledge and insight cannot be beat IMHO. Feeling a part of this class and Kelly Writer's house is a gift.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
2 years ago
Radwa completed this course.
I've read various reviews before I write mine and I almost agree with every review. I just feel inclined to add that the art of poetry is the real perseverance for any language in the world. I consider it stronger than corpus [ for those who are not aware of corpus; it is a tool used by linguists to preserve language]. Read More
I've read various reviews before I write mine and I almost agree with every review. I just feel inclined to add that the art of poetry is the real perseverance for any language in the world. I consider it stronger than corpus [ for those who are not aware of corpus; it is a tool used by linguists to preserve language]. In addition, although I love poetry, I mostly love hearing it rather than reading it. I've got this chance from the recordings of the poems on Modpo website. I also love discussing my thoughts when I read a poem. Thus, Modpo videos have given me the sense that I am in a good company. The presence of TAs hours around the clock that suits all regions of the world has made it easy for me to interact and ask my persistent questions. Influenced by Al, I like to say I ballyhoo AI and the whole Modpo team for this-
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Best class... if you're hesitating at all, just take it, Even if you never finish or get the certificate, I promise you will find something to take away from the experience. The professor and TA's are awesome, and all the videos feature them analyzing a poem together in a discussion format. The TA's and Al are very acc Read More
Best class... if you're hesitating at all, just take it, Even if you never finish or get the certificate, I promise you will find something to take away from the experience. The professor and TA's are awesome, and all the videos feature them analyzing a poem together in a discussion format. The TA's and Al are very accessible and always willing to respond to your ideas or questions on the poems you read. It is impressive that they have managed to create such a sense of community in such a large class. To be honest, I think they have created a tighter sense of community among thousands of students than the sense of community I get in some of my thirty person high school classes. This class has introduced me to so many new poets, poetry, and most importantly to a new outlook on how to approach the reading and analysis of poetry.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This Fall is my 2nd experience with ModPo and it just keeps getting better. Compared to 4 other online classes, ModPo is the most interactive, community oriented class that I could ever want. There are many thousands of us taking this class, yet it feels intimate because of Prof. Al Filreis's devotion to open communica Read More
This Fall is my 2nd experience with ModPo and it just keeps getting better. Compared to 4 other online classes, ModPo is the most interactive, community oriented class that I could ever want. There are many thousands of us taking this class, yet it feels intimate because of Prof. Al Filreis's devotion to open communication, conversational style, devotion to the subject matter, plus a contagious enthusiasm for sharing poetry with his excellent TA's, the gang at the Kelly Writers House and any and all of us. Technologically, the class is designed for maximum involvement. Round table videos for close reading our poems, live web casts with the community, discussion forums and assignments designed to encourage participation in assessing our and other's contributions. It is just the BEST!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Best MOOC ever. Period. You're getting a master-class, close discussion setting and really good exposure to some of the movements in American poetry (including the stuff happening now), that sneaks up and teaches you to think in ways you never expected. Engagement doesn't do the connection justice. You will discover th Read More
Best MOOC ever. Period. You're getting a master-class, close discussion setting and really good exposure to some of the movements in American poetry (including the stuff happening now), that sneaks up and teaches you to think in ways you never expected. Engagement doesn't do the connection justice. You will discover that you're not just more informed about the poems and the way of teaching/thinking in the class, but the class begins to inform your view of the world around you too. If you ever felt like you might like poetry, you will. If you ever thought you might like to write poetry, you will. The content of the class is fantastic, and the content of the forum is beautiful, global, and mind-blowing. It doesn't teach you just to read poetry, but to think about everything.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This course will transform you by bringing JOY to every aspect of your life. By learning to understand modern poetry, within the warm and nurturing environment created by Al Filries and his team, you will understand life better. There are no lectures, only discussions; and the forums allow you to make personal and prof Read More
This course will transform you by bringing JOY to every aspect of your life. By learning to understand modern poetry, within the warm and nurturing environment created by Al Filries and his team, you will understand life better. There are no lectures, only discussions; and the forums allow you to make personal and professional connections with people from all over the world. Despite the fact that the course is now over for the year, I am still involved in a study group on Gertrude Stein's "Tender Buttons"... five months ago I didn't even know who Stein was!! I am also enjoying collaborating on my own poetry with several other ModPo students. Don't hesitate, try out this class, you never know what bounty it may bring you!!!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
It is hard to imagine how incredibly intimate a MOOC w/1000's of students from many countries can become over the common discovery of American Poetry(along w/it's modern political and philisophical movements). Professor Al Filreis and the TA's for this course provide&engage in the material in a way that leaves the Read More
It is hard to imagine how incredibly intimate a MOOC w/1000's of students from many countries can become over the common discovery of American Poetry(along w/it's modern political and philisophical movements). Professor Al Filreis and the TA's for this course provide&engage in the material in a way that leaves the student only wanting more! It is very apparent that they are passionate about the subject! And after two separate sessions(2012,2013) I can say every student involved is greatly touched by this class.Though fairly rigorous(a good 8-12 hours a week if you complete every task&engage in every discussion) this course is well worth your time! ModPo is a Movement and you should jump in to be another part of the conversation!!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent course. It's been a lifechanger and no exaggeration. The materials superb, the pedagogy unrivalled in its ability to develop individual students' skills in interpretation, poetry criticism and discussion. But above all, it's the ModPo forums which are at the heart of this course, the community spirit and gene Read More
Excellent course. It's been a lifechanger and no exaggeration. The materials superb, the pedagogy unrivalled in its ability to develop individual students' skills in interpretation, poetry criticism and discussion. But above all, it's the ModPo forums which are at the heart of this course, the community spirit and generosity in sharing of ideas and support. Conversations spanned continents, oceans and time zones and went on for days and weeks on end, resulting in threads of pure magic. The team of Staff and TA's are superb facilitators and wonderful guides. Can't fault it. Take this course and change the way you view and live in the world. I'd never read much poetry before, now i wonder how did I manage to live without it?
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Great course, even for newbies. Although the course can be time-consuming for people who have no prior expierince in poetry the learning-benefits are enormous! The course gives students an indruction in how to read poetry and how do work with complicated text. It is a very community-driven course, that means, that to Read More
Great course, even for newbies. Although the course can be time-consuming for people who have no prior expierince in poetry the learning-benefits are enormous! The course gives students an indruction in how to read poetry and how do work with complicated text.

It is a very community-driven course, that means, that to get most benefits from it, one has to read and engage in the forums. Since the professor and the course-staff is also very engaged in the forums and the course, it can happen that you get in a chat with one of them. It can even happen, that one of the poets discussed in the lectures joins the forum. No kidding.

The only downside: To get an statement of accomplishmend one has to engage in the discussion forums.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
It changed my writing life and life in general around. I got to read amazing poems, watch and participate in discussions about not only in poetry but arts and life in general. I met amazing people that helps me until now to improve my experience as writer and reader. I opened my eyes to things that I ignored before. Read More
It changed my writing life and life in general around. I got to read amazing poems, watch and participate in discussions about not only in poetry but arts and life in general. I met amazing people that helps me until now to improve my experience as writer and reader.

I opened my eyes to things that I ignored before. I listen more. I also found a new way to express myself, to play with new forms of poetry, to open my head to incredible experiences within and outside class.

Modpo made wonders to me. I'm happy I did it and I would recommend it not only to people that like poetry but to people that are willing to change the way they see and they way they interact with others and life itself.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
2 years ago
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Anonymous partially completed this course.
This was by far the best online course I have taken. It was challenging (in a good way), interesting and informative. Al and the TAs were always present and inspiring and I really enjoyed the webcasts and the video discussions. It was an online class but it gave such a new sense of community. It felt like I wasn't secl Read More
This was by far the best online course I have taken. It was challenging (in a good way), interesting and informative. Al and the TAs were always present and inspiring and I really enjoyed the webcasts and the video discussions. It was an online class but it gave such a new sense of community. It felt like I wasn't secluded or by myself in Egypt, but in the middle of a community and close to an actual college campus. Unfortunately I could not complete the course because my work schedule interfered. I registered this year again in ModPo even though I am starting my master's in a couple of weeks, but I didn't want to miss the chance of being back again even for a few weeks. Definitely recommend!
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Modpo is a rewarding experience for students at all levels. I have a fine arts degree in poetry, but I lacked much of the literature background that this course provides. I discovered new poets and poetic practices that will enrich my own work and my reading experiences. There are options for completing the coursework Read More
Modpo is a rewarding experience for students at all levels. I have a fine arts degree in poetry, but I lacked much of the literature background that this course provides. I discovered new poets and poetic practices that will enrich my own work and my reading experiences. There are options for completing the coursework or simply auditing. Support from the professors, TAs, and fellow Modpo students creates a human connection that is unusual compared to other online courses I have taken. I will be revisiting this course material again and again. Many thanks for all of the hard work put in by Al Filreis and the TAs and Kelly Writer's House.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Carol A Stephen completed this course.
Course is engaging with video group discussions, live webcasts, individual responses to student questions. The discussion forums are extremely active. The course material is well-presented with plenty of supplementary sources and readings for those wishing to deepen their knowledge even further. Teaching staff is very Read More
Course is engaging with video group discussions, live webcasts, individual responses to student questions. The discussion forums are extremely active. The course material is well-presented with plenty of supplementary sources and readings for those wishing to deepen their knowledge even further. Teaching staff is very accessible; each student feels like their contributions are valued and that the staff knows who everyone is and what they've said: an amazing feat considering the number of enrollments in the course.

This is my second time through the course: it was that good the first time!
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Nicola Quinn completed this course.
The most amazing course I have ever participated in. This course is far from just about poetry, it is about a new way of looking at and experiencing the world. Professor Al Filreis' teaching is extraordinary and his TAs and the whole community exude a passion for the subject I have never come across before. I highly re Read More
The most amazing course I have ever participated in. This course is far from just about poetry, it is about a new way of looking at and experiencing the world. Professor Al Filreis' teaching is extraordinary and his TAs and the whole community exude a passion for the subject I have never come across before. I highly recommend you take this course, whatever your current thoughts are on poetry, it is a journey never to be forgotten.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Judy Meibach completed this course.
This is a brilliant class - each week a different 'school/movement' is discussed, with accompaning poets and readings. The video discussions are wonderful, and the TA's, young men and women themselves are brilliant. The professor, Al has a guru type of feel, bringing you into the poetry world, so you never want to leav Read More
This is a brilliant class - each week a different 'school/movement' is discussed, with accompaning poets and readings. The video discussions are wonderful, and the TA's, young men and women themselves are brilliant. The professor, Al has a guru type of feel, bringing you into the poetry world, so you never want to leave. The community of poets from around the world is close and it is the greatest experience you could ever hope for
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Jo Danks Seutter completed this course.
This was my first MOOC and my first real introduction to poetry. It was far different from any bricks and mortar college class that I have ever taken. The level on involvement from everyone was amazing and even though I felt lost at times, there was always someone there to nudge me -not in the "right" directi Read More
This was my first MOOC and my first real introduction to poetry. It was far different from any bricks and mortar college class that I have ever taken. The level on involvement from everyone was amazing and even though I felt lost at times, there was always someone there to nudge me -not in the "right" direction but on to new possibilities. No other course has even come close to this experience-please don't miss it!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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sloopie72 completed this course.
It's more than a class, it's an experience. If you'd told me I'd be this into an online poetry class, I would've laughed - how can a poetry MOOC possibly work? Well, it can. Great resources, a progression that makes sense from start to finish, constant involvement from Prof. Al Filreis, a batch of top-notch TAs and a w Read More
It's more than a class, it's an experience. If you'd told me I'd be this into an online poetry class, I would've laughed - how can a poetry MOOC possibly work? Well, it can. Great resources, a progression that makes sense from start to finish, constant involvement from Prof. Al Filreis, a batch of top-notch TAs and a whole slew of CTAs, made it impossible to sit back on the sidelines. It's not a class, it's a way of life.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Claudia Schumann completed this course.
Take this class and you will be totally WOWed! I've learned so much about looking at poetry a different way - close-reading. Al Filreis and the TAs are fabulous in guiding you through this process. The discussion forums are like going to different class sessions. The ideas that come from these forums is way more in dep Read More
Take this class and you will be totally WOWed! I've learned so much about looking at poetry a different way - close-reading. Al Filreis and the TAs are fabulous in guiding you through this process. The discussion forums are like going to different class sessions. The ideas that come from these forums is way more in depth than I have ever thought possible. If you like poetry, this is the class for you and it's free!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
The ultimate MOOC- you are free to choose your level of engagement, yet it draws you in to its world and you emerge changed.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
A lot of work, a lot of learning, an incredible amount of attention form the professor and TA's - fan-flippingtastic course.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Great class! Highly interactive, more of a huge group discussion than a class. Beware - this class sucks you in!!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Wonderful experience. Really insightful and enjoyable discussions and excellent choice of poets and their works!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Well-structured, a dedicated prof and TA's, a supporting and vivid community - can fully recommend that course.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Kathleen Cooper completed this course.
A great introduction to modern poetry. The professor is the best.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I absolutely love this class!! I hope they offer more like this!
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Terrific, well-organized, inspired and inspiring. Take this class!
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2 weeks ago
Anthony Watkins partially completed this course.
There is a story in the New Testament of the Christian Bible where Jesus takes the disciples up to a mountain top, and there they spend the day with the long dead patriarchs of the Jewish faith, and as the day winds down, Peter asks Jesus if maybe they could build temples for these ghostly patriarchs to live in so they Read More
There is a story in the New Testament of the Christian Bible where Jesus takes the disciples up to a mountain top, and there they spend the day with the long dead patriarchs of the Jewish faith, and as the day winds down, Peter asks Jesus if maybe they could build temples for these ghostly patriarchs to live in so they could come and visit forever. In that story, there is some sort of moral I never quite got, but I am reminded of the story every time I watch a video, or a podcast of Al and his TAs gathered at Kelly Writers House to discuss some old well worn beloved verse from Emily or WCW, or "Uncle Walt", or to introduce us to a somewhat more obscure but interesting poet from the 1960s or even today.

I wish we could all abide in that beautiful cottage on the campus of UPenn and talk and listen to each other about poetry. This class is probably as close to that fantasy as one can have with 30,000+ close friends! Yes, I will most likely be taking this course every year for the rest of my life, not to mention participating in the 42 auxillary SloPo classes from December through August!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
The comments here already cover the many reasons why this class is so amazing, This is my first experience with an on-line class and I now understand why everyone is so excited about it. The live webcasts and video discussions about the work being studied each week let you feel like you're there and truly part of the d Read More
The comments here already cover the many reasons why this class is so amazing, This is my first experience with an on-line class and I now understand why everyone is so excited about it. The live webcasts and video discussions about the work being studied each week let you feel like you're there and truly part of the discussion. I started another on-line course a few weeks ago and it is nothing like this one. The facts are there through lectures, but the engagement with the prof and TAs and the other students isn't. I wish all courses would take tips from this model.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This is my first MOOC and it was an incredible experience. I didn't know much about poetry before I took it, although I am well read in literature. Professor Al Filreis and his TAs made this so enjoyable and engaging. They are enthusiastic, encouraging, and insightful. I now have an increased appreciation of poetry and Read More
This is my first MOOC and it was an incredible experience. I didn't know much about poetry before I took it, although I am well read in literature. Professor Al Filreis and his TAs made this so enjoyable and engaging. They are enthusiastic, encouraging, and insightful. I now have an increased appreciation of poetry and will continue to study it again and again. And as an interesting note, a number of participants took this course last year and continue it just for the sheer love of learning. ModPo is a community in the best sense of the word.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I have a Master's degree in English, and I found this class to be tremendously challenging, stimulating, interesting, and fun. I have not always particularly liked modern poetry, and I would have not independently spent much time with Whitman, Stein, Ginzberg and the more experimental poets, but I found that the class Read More
I have a Master's degree in English, and I found this class to be tremendously challenging, stimulating, interesting, and fun. I have not always particularly liked modern poetry, and I would have not independently spent much time with Whitman, Stein, Ginzberg and the more experimental poets, but I found that the class almost forces you to respect and appreciate poets that you would never have thought you would like. And I learned so much more about poets that I had thought I was pretty familiar with. Al Filreis is a generous, creative professor.
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2 months ago
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Diane Schofield is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
A difficult but very enjoyable course, I'm taking it during the time it is 'live' and have found the support and attention given by the mentors and educators to be excellent. There is a lot of interaction in the forums too which makes such a difference and the live videos each week are brilliant. I'd never done any c Read More
A difficult but very enjoyable course, I'm taking it during the time it is 'live' and have found the support and attention given by the mentors and educators to be excellent. There is a lot of interaction in the forums too which makes such a difference and the live videos each week are brilliant. I'd never done any close poetry reading before - it's really good fun.

The course is a happy combination of hard work and sheer joy so I recommend it - just make sure to set aside enough time each week as the work load is high.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I have taken several MOOC courses and Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) is far and away the one that was most interesting, that kept me most engaged and that was most relevant to achieving my goal of learning enrichment and social fellowship. In ModPo we do close reading of poetry, starting with Whitman a Read More
I have taken several MOOC courses and Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) is far and away the one that was most interesting, that kept me most engaged and that was most relevant to achieving my goal of learning enrichment and social fellowship. In ModPo we do close reading of poetry, starting with Whitman and Dickinson, right up to the present day poets. The course is fun, but it is also challenging, and you complete it knowing far more about the subject and its impact on society than you may have known before,
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2 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Signing up for Modern American Poetry with Al Filreis, or ModPo for short, I wondered what a 60-something woman living in the middle of nowhere would gain. American poetry got short shrift when I studied English Lit and earned a BA in the 60s. And I hated Emily Dickinson. Wow, did that first year and a certificate of a Read More
Signing up for Modern American Poetry with Al Filreis, or ModPo for short, I wondered what a 60-something woman living in the middle of nowhere would gain. American poetry got short shrift when I studied English Lit and earned a BA in the 60s. And I hated Emily Dickinson. Wow, did that first year and a certificate of achievement change all that. "I dwell in possibility" all the time and have signed up for the course every since 2012. No matter your passion, try ModPo for a look at poetry that lives in all of us.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
A sophisticated, exciting, intelligent, freewheeling class that involves students more intimately than any online course I've ever taken. The focus is always on possibilities and every piece of student input is taken seriously. Imagine a course that makes you feel as if you're at the table and a valued participant in t Read More
A sophisticated, exciting, intelligent, freewheeling class that involves students more intimately than any online course I've ever taken. The focus is always on possibilities and every piece of student input is taken seriously. Imagine a course that makes you feel as if you're at the table and a valued participant in the discussion. No old-fashioned "I teach/you learn" or "talking heads" here. I look forward to it every day, every reading, every video discussion. Brilliant!
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4 years ago
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Melissa Hayes completed this course.
Al Filreis is awesome, and he is very active in the discussion forums. The material is first rate, and many from this class have become a poetry community. This was my second time taking the class, and it has lost none of the sparkle of the first time around. This course opened up so many opportunities for me, and I am Read More
Al Filreis is awesome, and he is very active in the discussion forums. The material is first rate, and many from this class have become a poetry community. This was my second time taking the class, and it has lost none of the sparkle of the first time around. This course opened up so many opportunities for me, and I am endlessly grateful! If you are interested in poetry, this is a must take class. You will have the opportunity to interact with thousands of poetry lovers!
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4 years ago
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Karren Alenier completed this course.
I am enrolled a second time because the learning and the community was so exciting last year I wanted to participate again. I also felt I could learn more despite being a working for poet who writes, teaches, reviews. This year I was invited to be a Community Teaching Assistant and I started a popular study group in th Read More
I am enrolled a second time because the learning and the community was so exciting last year I wanted to participate again. I also felt I could learn more despite being a working for poet who writes, teaches, reviews. This year I was invited to be a Community Teaching Assistant and I started a popular study group in the Discussion Forum on Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons. Al Filreis has built a remarkable learning experience with the help of his very able staff.
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4 years ago
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Paul Filipowski completed this course.
What if I told you? If I told you what if, of you, I told. A tolling per se and the bells without tolls. "In a restless world like - THIS - is." You do the work. You make it new. You belong there. So much depends upon - YOU Your "merely being there means something" "Something there is Read More
What if I told you?

If I told you what if, of you, I told.

A tolling per se and the bells without tolls.

"In a restless world like - THIS - is."

You do the work.

You make it new.

You belong there.

So much depends upon - YOU

Your "merely being there means something"

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall"

There is ModPo and then there is no going back.

Come and see the smiles in your mirror.

Poetry is life ~?~
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
A fantastic class where people learn so much and connect with each other to form a real community. Absolutely the best structured MOOC I've taken, with lots of interaction in the class videos as well as in the live webcasts. And we all learn -- even Al seems to learn new things from poems that he's taught for 30 years Read More
A fantastic class where people learn so much and connect with each other to form a real community. Absolutely the best structured MOOC I've taken, with lots of interaction in the class videos as well as in the live webcasts. And we all learn -- even Al seems to learn new things from poems that he's taught for 30 years with the help of the online community. I got my certificate last year, but I came back for more this year because it's such a special course.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
ModPo does MOOCs right! Our instructor, Al Filreis, is a MOOC pioneer who really believes in the power of online instruction -- and in the power of poetry. We've been led through a lively introduction to contemporary American poetry by an amazing group of TAs and poets, and the use of video, close reading, forums, assi Read More
ModPo does MOOCs right! Our instructor, Al Filreis, is a MOOC pioneer who really believes in the power of online instruction -- and in the power of poetry. We've been led through a lively introduction to contemporary American poetry by an amazing group of TAs and poets, and the use of video, close reading, forums, assignments, peer reviews, and social media come together to make a class with 40,000+ members seem like a small-group seminar.
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4 years ago
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Natasha Deboo completed this course.
Apart from Al and the TAs being most helpful and considerate towards even those who did not understand a word of poetry, the support from the peers is outstanding! I have completed other courses on Coursera too, but nowhere did I find such enthusiasm, support and motivation that I did in this class. It has let my creat Read More
Apart from Al and the TAs being most helpful and considerate towards even those who did not understand a word of poetry, the support from the peers is outstanding! I have completed other courses on Coursera too, but nowhere did I find such enthusiasm, support and motivation that I did in this class. It has let my creative side flow and shown me how to close read a poem - something I thought I would never be able to do! Thank you Al!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Extraordinary experience that debunks the hype that on-line learning is too impersonal. Modpo sets the standard for on-line courses. Even if you feel poetry is just not for you, think again. The love and enthusiasm is for poetry generated by the prof, ta's and participations is infectious. The wabi sabi technology is p Read More
Extraordinary experience that debunks the hype that on-line learning is too impersonal. Modpo sets the standard for on-line courses. Even if you feel poetry is just not for you, think again. The love and enthusiasm is for poetry generated by the prof, ta's and participations is infectious. The wabi sabi technology is perfectly imperfect and humanizes the experience. Don't miss the chance to make friends all over the world.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
As someone with a science background and a secret yearning to write and understand poetry, this was perfect. I shared poetry with 34,000 of my closest friends, but the forums made it feel I was in an intimate group. Our professor, Al, and his TA's allowed me a glimpse into types of poetry I thought I would never unders Read More
As someone with a science background and a secret yearning to write and understand poetry, this was perfect. I shared poetry with 34,000 of my closest friends, but the forums made it feel I was in an intimate group. Our professor, Al, and his TA's allowed me a glimpse into types of poetry I thought I would never understand and allowed me to look deeper into poems I thought I knew. I will continue to take this class every year.
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4 years ago
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Massimo Soranzio completed this course.
'Top' cannot do this class justice, it's not enough! The high quality of teaching, the perfect structuring of the course, an incredibly stimulating syllabus, and a fantastic learning environment, in which you have the feeling you are actually studying in the company of students from every corner of the world in a colla Read More
'Top' cannot do this class justice, it's not enough! The high quality of teaching, the perfect structuring of the course, an incredibly stimulating syllabus, and a fantastic learning environment, in which you have the feeling you are actually studying in the company of students from every corner of the world in a collaborative (and fun!) way... If you haven't tried it yet, make a note in your diary for September 2014!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
4.5/5 or more. This is the most exciting class I've taken, completely engaging and engaged. People learn a lot about language, themselves, American history, reading and of course poetry. It keeps on giving: I'm doing a history of humankind (Hebrew U. of Jerusalem) and a music history course (Curtis Inst.) and both mesh Read More
4.5/5 or more. This is the most exciting class I've taken, completely engaging and engaged. People learn a lot about language, themselves, American history, reading and of course poetry. It keeps on giving: I'm doing a history of humankind (Hebrew U. of Jerusalem) and a music history course (Curtis Inst.) and both mesh beautifully with approaches, discussions and ideas set by ModPo. That course really set the standard.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
If anyone has a doubt that ModPo is the top class, come and see the activity on Facebook, on the Discussion Board and in the webcasts. There are over 40k students from around the globe, all of which are excited, dedicated and so many of them repeat the class. New comers will come back next year. Not only do we attend t Read More
If anyone has a doubt that ModPo is the top class, come and see the activity on Facebook, on the Discussion Board and in the webcasts. There are over 40k students from around the globe, all of which are excited, dedicated and so many of them repeat the class. New comers will come back next year. Not only do we attend the class but we search for other sites, we listen to PoemTalk and the excitement is up in the sky.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
wonderful beginning class for american poetry from dickenson and whitman to current poetry scene. you can invest 5 to 6 hours or more and it can be a beginner's course or one may tailor it to there experience and needs. taught in a collaborative manner with many videos and related materials that are linked to the cours Read More
wonderful beginning class for american poetry from dickenson and whitman to current poetry scene. you can invest 5 to 6 hours or more and it can be a beginner's course or one may tailor it to there experience and needs. taught in a collaborative manner with many videos and related materials that are linked to the course.

highly recommended and may take it again next time, with increased awareness and knowledge.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Where to begin - this is the greatest class ever. I hit the jackpot when I enrolled for this class. I didn't realise it but if anyone is inany doubt - this is the greatest class ever. No one knows how awesome it is until you do it. No one knows how good Prof Al is until you joi. No one knows how incredibly clever and b Read More
Where to begin - this is the greatest class ever. I hit the jackpot when I enrolled for this class. I didn't realise it but if anyone is inany doubt - this is the greatest class ever. No one knows how awesome it is until you do it. No one knows how good Prof Al is until you joi. No one knows how incredibly clever and beautiful is Julia Bloch until you do the course. They are just incredibly talented people.
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4 years ago
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Russell Ragsdale completed this course.
It has been great to participate in this class and has expanded my boundaries poetically to a great extent. I think this has been a terrific learning experience and believe there is more to gain from this class. So much so in fact, that I am planning to take it a third time. Can you think of a course you would have considered doing that with during either your graduate or undergraduate years?
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4 years ago
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sanjeevn completed this course.
Will open your mind to new ideas like few other things in life. THe professor, the TAs, the other students in the class all contribute to an mind-opening experience like few others. Teaches in a non-didactic way. Come with an open mind and leave with a mind full of ideas to explore for a lifetime. THIS is the cours Read More
Will open your mind to new ideas like few other things in life.

THe professor, the TAs, the other students in the class all contribute to an mind-opening experience like few others.

Teaches in a non-didactic way.

Come with an open mind and leave with a mind full of ideas to explore for a lifetime.

THIS is the course to take if you have even a little bit of love for language and poetry.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This has been a fantastic experience. Prof Al and the TA are wonderful. The format allows people like me easy access and the ability to move throughout the class with ease. The web grue is awesome. The discussion forms were amazing. Everyone that participated shared and we all got knowledge to the 10 power. Bravo to Mo Read More
This has been a fantastic experience. Prof Al and the TA are wonderful. The format allows people like me easy access and the ability to move throughout the class with ease. The web grue is awesome. The discussion forms were amazing. Everyone that participated shared and we all got knowledge to the 10 power. Bravo to MoPO

I wish it were possible for all high schoolers to take this class.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Al Filreis and his sparklingly bright TAs have made poetry accessible, delightful and fun. The staff is relentlessly caring, thoughtful and inquisitive. Professor Al is a master moderator, bringing out the best thinking in TAs, poets and students alike. How they manage to make a community of 34,000+ people feel like a small group is mind-blowing. Bravo, UPenn, for sharing Al with the world.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This is a superb class for someone like me, fairly new to poetry. The videos have excellent discussion among people who are a mix of adults and students. They are fun, informative and educative. The FB community is very alive. What I like most is the involvement of the MODPO coordinator and his TAs in the FB community making it very personalised. I love and am coming back next year...
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2 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Be aware this is a truly inspirational and life-changing course – I have even travelled from the UK to attend some of the live webcasts in Philadelphia! As well as learning so much about American poetry, I feel part of a world community of people inspired to discuss complex issues together. A wonderful, wonderful example of truly collaborative learning led by some amazing teachers.
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4 years ago
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Linda Crosfield completed this course.
I can describe it in two words: life changing. I never completed university. Always felt like I was somehow lessened because of that. Turns out I do have a brain and it's functioning quite well, thank you, and from time to time I have something to say that other people like to hear. Al's nurturing enthusiasm (to a classroom of over 30,000 people!) is nothing short of amazing.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This class is extraordinary, I am learning how to interpret and enjoy poems that I had never been exposed to before.

The videos are instructive, and the format (with the TAs around the table, all participating) makes it fun and engaging. I especially like been able to ask questions during "office hours"! I will take this course again next time it is offered.
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5 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This highly participative and enthusiastically conducted class is a model for how online courses should be run. The class uses the entire gamut of online tools, from videos to online forums to live webcasts. The videos are not lectures, but rather close-reading discussions between the professor and a group of dedicated and intelligent students.

Highly recommended.
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2 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Hi, I participated in two time-overlapping MOOCs this fall. They perfectly complemented one another. One through Coursera and the other througth NovoEd. Poetry plus fiction. Both courses were rich with interesting material, but more importantly: kind people from all over the world. http://www.alonnashaw.com/2015/11/shockwaves-of-learning-online-classes.html
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4 years ago
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Elizabeth Evans completed this course.
This was a truly wonderful experience of both poetry and community. Professor Al Filreis and his TAs are deeply engaged and involved in the forum discussions, and are passionate about modern poetry. Peer review, instead of a score, involves commentary and continued discussion. I strongly recommend this class to anyone with an interest in poetry.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
ModPo is a unique experience. I've never known before such a wonderful encouraging learning community. It makes you more feel to be part of a process and a big team than some of face-to-face-courses I participated in.

The material and structure makes it very easy to find a way into the topic(s) and it is simply great - every turn again.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Al Filreis is superb at generating student interest, and very responsive in discussion forums. However his choice of poems is biased toward the life-denying rather than life-affirming -- he ignores too many of the great poems of the past century and focuses too much on the peripheral, especially the postmodern and experimental.
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4 years ago
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ImNoclue completed this course.
This is an amazing class, rich in resources and richer still in community. The heart of the class is the interactive discussions that occur 24-7 on the course forums, which create a marketplace of ideas. This interactivity is unique among the MOOCs I have seen and has provided one of the best learning experiences I have ever had.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Best course I've done for years, including paid ones. Lovely inclusive teaching method that makes you feel part of the group, loads of resources free online, great community spirit. Many on the course feel it has not only increased their understanding of poetry and of modernism, but changed their lives for the better
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I have paid for a number online courses and this has been of a better standard than most of those! The videos have been engaging and the assignments interesting. I came to the course with no knowledge of modern American poetry and have learned a lot about the subject, especially in relation to modern art.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Outstanding class! ModPo staff and instructor Al Filreis make the asynchronous communication seem almost synchronous through responsiveness and office hours. The pace is quick but manageable for most. This course covers a lot of ground, but does it in a very fun, social, and interactive way. Strongly recommended!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I took ModPo 1, but not ModPo 2 due to time constraints. ModPo gives a grounded but not dumbed-down approach to understanding the subtleties, nuances, depths and playfulness of poetry using an intelligent but informal approach. And THIS also benefited one of my red hens. Thank you, Al and TAs and classmates!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
ModPo is one of the most enriching learning doors I've ever opened. The level of energy, dedication, and communication in this class, from both staff and participants, is inspiring, as are the new ways of seeing that anyone in this course will experience! ModPo has set the bar for MOOCs for me.
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2 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I completed the course last year and am taking it again now for a second time. I was a poetry newbie a year ago and had my life transformed by this course. Not only do I love and better understand poetry, but I have connected with a wonderful community of fellow mod-poers. I highly recommend.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Gave me a brand new approach to poetry (the close reading), exposed me to poets I'd never read before, and allowed be to discuss it all with a world-wide community of like-minded people. Al Filreis and the TAs at Kelly Writers House kept things lively. I plan to do this again next year.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Super class. I have a 1st Class Honours in English Literature and an MA (with distinction), but this class has been a real mind opener, and a delight to take. Also, as a poet, I've found it so stimulating. I'd highly recommend it to anyone with a genuine interest in poetry or language.
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2 years ago
Mary Manning is taking this course right now.
This is my fourth year taking ModPo, and each year it feels fresh, deeper, and more poets to study. The first year I earned a certificate, but now I keep going back to push further into more serious studies of new and traditional American poets. Love every minute! Mary Manning Whitaker
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This class taught me how to analyze poetry. The community of learners is very interactive and engaging. There were live webcasts and/or audio messages several times a week. We were able to interact with our professor via telephone, Twitter, and by using the forums and Facebook.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I've taken several online courses and this is by far the best . It is well run. The teacher and the TAs are very knowledgeable about the subject. This course is for anyone no matter what your educational level. It makes you want to keep exploring on your own about the subject.
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2 weeks ago
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Anonymous partially completed this course.
A Perfect Course! It added to my understanding of poetry. Taught me how to close read poems. The videos, live webcasts, and staff live office hours are interesting and fun! The discussion groups create a close sense of community. The kind of course you can return to again and again.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This class was fantastic. The videos feature a collaborative close reading between Al and his TAs, modelling the deep and thoughtful study of poetry that they want students to learn. Al and the TAs are deeply involved in the forums, offering help, advice, counsel and comfort.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Amazing experience with Al and his wonderful TA's..they become your other family. In 10 weeks, you will learn so much about poetry & become hooked. I had never read poetry before this class..never knew how to approach it..now I am hooked & plan to continue forever!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
If you have even the slightest interest in poetry this will be a rewarding experience. You will come away not only a stronger reader of poetry but a stronger reader. The level of staff participation will astonish you. Something valuable is being given away free!
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4 years ago
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Barbara Huntington completed this course.
I can feel my brain expanding

Things I thought weren't poetry now sing to me

How can one find so much love and caring in a class of 34,000?

More up close and personal than classes I have taken in person with 20 people.

I have found a new home.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This class is unlike others. It is actually "taught" via a roundtable discussion and close reading of contemporary poems. You can take the course over again and learn something new each time. The best of the Coursera courses.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Modern & Contemporary American Poetry is more than an online course, more than a MOOC, more than a learning experience - It is community. My community now spans the globe with friends in poetry, infinite possibility wherein I now dwell.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This is the MOOC in which I have been the most engaged. The course empowers students to think about and discuss challenging and interesting work. The evidence is in the volume and quality of the student forums. This is an amazing course.
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2 years ago
Pilar partially completed this course.
I got a taste and initiation to this great course in 2014. . I am coming back for ModPo 2015 for seconds and savoring it this time with much gusto. Best MOOC I have ever participated in and I have taken many of them. I highly recommend it.
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4 years ago
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John OConnor completed this course.
Do not let the word Poetry put you off taking this class. This course will teach you how to read and think. It is the most valuable course that I have ever experienced. The more I put into this course the more I got out of it.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Fantastic.. engaging, perplexing, thought-provoking, and with such support from the teaching staff and participants. I love this class. And I've taken about six coursera courses.. this rates among one of the best. Thanks Al et al!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Al Filreis is an amazing, engaging, and dynamic instructor, and this class has been fascinating from the very first week. If you're at all interested in the cutting edge of modern writing, this course is one not to be missed...
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This is my second turn in ModPo and I am again deeply convinced and impressed by the whole concept and the dedication Al Filreis and the TA's show. It was my first experience with an MOOC and I couldn't have made a better choice.
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3 months ago
Wade T Smith completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
I audited this, but it's a wonderful and very thorough ramble through some very interesting poetry, much of which was new to me and also a bit out of my usual comfort range, although none of it was scatological or obscene.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
ModPo blew away all my expectations! I can't say enough good things about the course, Prof. Al Filreis, the TAs, and everyone involved. It's been an enlightening, fun experience, and I highly recommend it!
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4 years ago
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Judy Leeson Polstra completed this course.
Life changing class...humor, intelligence, poignancy...every week. This class is not to be missed (but WILL be very missed by all attendees when it's over.) I'm a ModPo-er for life. Thank-you Al Filreis and Team!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
No question ....one of the best online courses available. Al and his very able team illuminate the most difficult of poems.

A joy to be in the company of the poets, the team and the students.
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4 years ago
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Anne Smith completed this course.
This the best of the several MOOC I have taken. It is challenging and engaging. The forums are very active and enriching. It is life-changing. Everyone can benefit from an enjoy this course
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Its just the most amazing experience, i would not have believed this was possible on a MOOC format , but it really is an incredibly positive learning experience. Try it and see !
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I was part of the first class. The experience has remained an enriching highlight--including friends. Be prepared to be stimulated, stretched and awakened in the night.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Highly recommend to non-English speaking or English as second language people and all others who want to learn poetry in a very entertaining and relaxed setting.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
ModPo is an amazing course. I recommend it highly.

It is the first online course that had me hooked right from the start.

It is thought-provoking and enjoyable.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I have graduated in computer science. But this course by Al Filreis was the best academic experience of my life. Love the man and his team of students.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
great class. Features round table discussion instead of lectures and videos are very entertaining and engaging. Active involved community of learners
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent and engaging. It taught me how to engage with poetry in a way that I never learned in my traditional university classes.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Wonderful experience. Really insightful and enjoyable discussions and excellent choice of poets and their works!
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Great experience! Can recommend it to anyone interested in poetry and new approaches in online-learning.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Extraordinary class, professor, TAs, answering

questions in real time via virtual office hours!
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4 years ago
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Victoria Richards completed this course.
An excellent learning experience which will stay with you long after the course finishes.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
I am having fun and learning so much from Al Filreis and the staff.
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4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Best class, professor, TAs and community in the world.
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a year ago
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Peter Hartree completed this course.
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9 months ago
Aurora Xu completed this course.
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2 years ago
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Katarzyna Wiktoria Klag completed this course.
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2 years ago
Nadeem Rvk completed this course.
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2 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
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2 years ago
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Anonymous is taking this course right now.
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2 years ago
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Anonymous is taking this course right now.
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