Modern Poetry

Modern Poetry

Click HERE to enter our Schoology online classroom (code: GD6BZ-Q43GK)

Required Materials: Notebook/composition journal, folder/binder, Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (provided)

Suggested Materials: Personal Internet Device

Course Description and Objectives:

This course is an introduction to the trends and works in poetry spanning from the beginning of the 20th century until today. Though these studies aim to create thoughtful and eager “word-eaters” and poetry connoisseurs, a welcome symptom and method of our work will be emulation of pieces we come to enjoy.  

As described by T.S. Eliot, confrontations with poetry are often confrontations with ourselves; he posits, “Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”

Expected Student Learning Outcomes:

Assignments in this course are designed to assess student learning in the areas listed below. After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain and identify movements in modern poetry

  2. Appreciate and discuss details in works of poetry

  3. Recreate techniques used by great poets

  4. Delineate poetic functions and analyze their impact on readers

  5. Connect works of modern poetry to their influences in contemporary events

  6. Weigh the ethical implications of art tributing other works or inciting social change

  7. Survey multiculturalism in modern poetry

Content Warnings

Modern poetry struggles with the taboo and unseemly. Sometimes the style and the content of our readings will be offensive or uncomfortable when juxtaposed with some of our own values and ideals.

Though students are encouraged to practice confronting controversial material, warnings will be issued whenever we are preparing to read anything with abrasive language or subjects. Opting out and choosing another poem with as many similarities as possible


As with all English Electives, quarterly grades will be composed of assessments as follows:

Tests/Projects/Essays – 45%

Quizzes – 20%

Homework – 20%

Participation – 15%


Once every quarter we hold a “coffeehouse” where students come with an approved poem for recitation. Though the first coffeehouse does not require memorization, recitations are evaluated based on a rehearsed delivery of a poem. The same evaluations used for the Poetry Out Loud competition will be used for these class days.

The goal for these evaluations is to practice reading/recitation that reflects a poem’s meaning while engaging as an active participant in a community that shares spoken word.

Semester Project:

At any point in the year after the poetry selection lists is released, students may sign up for a day to present their own 15-minute interactive poetry analysis. Focus for discussion could include poet’s intent, form, figurative language, cultural significance, theme, or any other related topic. Points will be awarded for supported poetry analysis, interactive elements, and filling up the time allotment with depth and breadth of content. This major assessment can be completed during either the first or the second quarter of the semester.

Poetry Journal: In the composition journal, students will be given daily poems to either attach or hand-copy into their journals for annotation. They may be periodically collected without warning for credit upon completion, so it is incredibly important that this is brought to class daily.

Poetry Out Loud: An element of this course is participation in our chapter of the Poetry Out Loud competition and an invitation to accompany the school champion to the regional competition. The Coffeehouse Recitation poems, if chosen within the guidelines of Poetry Out Loud, can simply be reused for the purpose of this competition. Our local competition will be held in school, and Modern Poetry students will be given a Major Assessment grade for their participation.

Redos and Replacement Assessments: In the event of a missed assignment or a strong desire to complete an alternative assignment, applications to complete a make-up are provided on Schoology or in the classroom. Please alert the instructor before placing the application into the turn-in bin, and await any needed modifications or verification of the application before starting. All make-up assignments must be turned in at least a week before the end of a marking period.