July 24, 2020

The last time we mentioned PoemTalk, the podcast series had just posted episode 103.

Closely associated with Kelly Writers House, PennSound, and Jacket2 magazine, PoemTalk episodes “get willing, engaged people together and ask them to talk about one poem, and see what magic happens. The poem provides magic (if chosen well, but even often if not) and the people — mostly the people — augment the magic. You never know where the conversation will go.”

Today’s episode, number 150, brings together Simone White, Dixon Li, Jo Park, and Al Filreis to discuss two poems by Terrance Hayes, “MJ Fan Letter” and “RSVP,” from his book Wind in a Box (2006).

All 150 episodes of PoemTalk are available, free, on Jacket2 and on iTunes.

meanwhile at ModPo

April 6, 2020

We’re huge fans of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo), the massive open online course (MOOC) offered free each year through Coursera. The ten-week intensive begins each September and tens of thousands of people participate, many taking it over and over.

Perhaps you’re one of the people who has considered enrolling but just couldn’t jam in another commitment in the fall. Well, here’s some good news from instructor Al Filreis (italics added for emphasis):

The course site is open every day, all year. Come in and read some poems, watch our videos about those poems, and join the conversation in the discussion forums. You need not wait until September 5, 2020, to be part of ModPo 2020. However, please do note that starting on September 5, and running for ten weeks thereafter, we will all together move through the syllabus during what we call our annual “symposium mode.” That mode features daily office hours held by TAs, super-lively discussion forums, in-person meet-ups in various locations, and weekly live interactive webcasts on Wednesdays.

To clarify: our annual 10-week symposium mode is what our friends at Coursera think of as “a course.” But — again to clarify — ModPo is unusual in that it is an ongoing open session. Once you “enroll” you are with us, unless you un-enroll, season after season, year after year. Our syllabus expands constantly and there are always new poems and new videos to read and watch. So please stay with us!

Sign up. Your poetry may never be the same!

starting soon!

August 30, 2019

We’ve mentioned Modern & Contemporary U.S. Poetry (aka ModPo) many times before. A free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), ModPo is a ten-week intensive that includes panel discussions, videos, reading, and, if desired, writing assignments. While course activities happen on a schedule, all of the materials remain available throughout the year, so it is entirely self-paced.

The next live 10-week session of ModPo will begin on Saturday, September 7, 2019, and will conclude on November 18, 2019. Find out more, review the syllabus, and sign up.

what’s funny?

October 10, 2018

Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia is home to all kinds of literary intelligence, including the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) ModPo (Modern & Contemporary American Poetry) and the online journal Jacket2, which has been challenging assumptions since 1997.

If you’re interested in the slippery slope of humor in poetry, for the next three months Sommer Browning will offer a series of commentaries on how, when, and why poetry is funny. Or not. Her introduction is here. If you’ve lost faith in humor, Browning might be able to help, or certainly there’s plenty of other material on Jacket2 to distract you from all that is unfunny in the world.

starting soon!

September 6, 2017

Here at The Poetry Department, we’re big fans of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”) in particular. This ten-week, FREE, interactive, online poetry course is demanding and rewarding. An “introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, with an emphasis on experimental verse, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to the present,” it combines readings, webcasts, video discussions, forums, and, if desired, writing assignments. The fall session begins on Saturday, September 9, 2017, and concludes on November 20, 2017. For more information and to enroll, visit the ModPo page on Coursera.

planning ahead

January 9, 2017

ModPo 2017 schedule

For those of you who like to plan ahead and have been contemplating taking — or retaking — Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”), here is the 2017 schedule. Enrollment is now open and you can find all the details regarding this free and very worthwhile MOOC (massive open online course) on the Coursera ModPo page.

ModPo about to begin again

August 31, 2016


This year’s Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is about begin. Offered through Coursera, the free ten-week online course is intensive, demanding and rewarding. Taught by Al Filreis and a panel of teaching assistants, it is a combination of audio, video, live sessions, reading, forums and, if desired, writing. ModPo begins September 10, 2016 and enrollment is now open.

See our previous posts about ModPo.

ModPo 2016

April 10, 2016


If you’re interested in modern and contemporary American poetry, you might consider enrolling in the free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”), offered through Coursera. The ten-week online course is intensive, demanding and rewarding. Taught by Al Filreis and a panel of teaching assistants, it is a combination of audio, video, live sessions, reading, forums and, if desired, writing. ModPo begins September 10, 2016 and enrollment is now open.

See our previous posts about ModPo.

free poetry

May 29, 2015


If you follow this blog, you’ll know that we’re fans of ModPoModern & Contemporary American Poetry — a massive open online course (MOOC). Offered free through Coursera, the ten-week University of Pennsylvania class is conducted by professor Al Filreis, along with a panel of close readers, video and audio segments, and substantial on- and off-line reading. ModPo will begin again on Saturday, September 12, 2015, and run through Monday, November 23. Participation is entirely self-directed — you don’t have to “show up” at a particular time — but the syllabus is demanding and it’s wise to take seriously the suggested commitment of “5-10 hours/week.”

Here are several sources for more information: “The Web Poet’s Society,” an article on ModPo and MOOCs in The Atlantic by Kristina A. Bicher; commentary and other posting on ModPo, primarily by Al Filreis, on Jacket 2; the ModPo page on Coursera. For participants, there is also a Facebook group.

For a different approach, consider Electronic Literature,” offered by edX, which starts October 15. Harvard offers numerous MOOCs through edX and even archived courses are accessible.

The Art of Poetry

September 11, 2014

edx - The Art of PoetryMassive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer an opportunity to challenge yourself with a university-level educational experience while sitting in front of your computer.

The 10-week University of Pennsylvania MOOC Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, offered through Coursera, has just started up again and enrollment is still open. The course is free.

The Art of Poetry, which begins September 30, 2014, focuses on “actually saying a poem” and, through that entry point, “on elements of the art such as poetry’s historical relation to courtship; techniques of sound in free verse; poetry’s relation to music; the nature of greatness.” The lead instructor is poet, professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. There is no charge for auditing the course, which offers full access to the course materials.

The same catalog of courses, edX, is offering a series on the history of poetry in America. The first in the series, Poetry in America: The Poetry of Early New England, started yesterday, September 10, 2014, and runs for five weeks.

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