Creative Writing: Poetry
Authored by Pat Pattison
Course Code: OLART-215
Creative Writing: Poetry is a course for writers—songwriters, poets, and anyone who wants to write more effectively. The course—authored by Pat Pattison, who developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country at Berklee—will give you specific tools to help you craft and control your writing. You will be taken through a step-by-step process, each step handing you another tool to give what you say more power. You'll learn how to enhance your ideas through arranging lines into odd or even numbered line groups and creating either a feeling of tension or resolution with the composition itself, independent of the poem's meaning. You'll learn placement, timing, focus, and especially how to use rhythm in language expressively.
The course uses musical vocabulary to examine the elements and functions of poetry, exploring how to make things move and stop, stop and move, just like in music. You'll see how the compositional aspects of poetry create their own music, independent of what's being said, and act like a film score to underpin and color your ideas.
The course provides examples from great poetry—both via text and video—from such poets as Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Butler Yeats, Robert Frost, D.H. Lawrence, e.e. cummings, W.H. Auden, Howard Nemerov, Allen Ginsberg, Galway Kinnell, and others. The focus of the course is not on inspiration and "flowology," though it will help you shape your inspiration more powerfully. Rather, the focus is on composition and how to craft your writing for maximum effect.
Each week, you'll have a new poem and a new tool to manipulate, moving through the counter-pointing of lines against phrases, use of rhythmic composition in blank verse, and ending in two traditional sonnet forms. When you post your poem, the instructor and your classmates will comment on your work, with special focus on how your structures help color and enhance your ideas. By the course's end, you will see poetry differently, both in terms how to approach writing in general, as well as the way that poetry can positively affect your lyrical output.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Write clearly and strongly
- Precisely control form and composition
- Counter-point lines against phrases to create musical effects
- Use language rhythms to create tension and resolution
- Understand the relationship between poetry and music
- Deeply understand prosody, the fundamental principle underlying not only poetry, but art in general
Lesson 1: Prose vs. Poetry
- Prose: Phrase Lengths
- Sentence Construction: Simple Sentences
- Compound Sentences
- Sentence Types
- Lines with Multiple Phrases
- Units of Composition
Lesson 2: Managing End-Stops
- Creating Subordinate Clauses
- Stable and Unstable Groupings
- "Days" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Student Poetry Examples
- Switching Line Order
Lesson 3: Managing Caesuras
- Frontal, Medial, and Terminal Caesuras
- Creating Tension
- Emerson's Handling of Caesuras
- Creating Motion
Lesson 4: Managing Enjambment
- Moving from Light to Heavy
- Other Movement
- Managing Enjambment
Lesson 5: Writing in Iambic Pentameter
- Stressed and Unstressed Syllables
- Iambic Pentameter
- Blending Languages
- Why Pentameter?
- English Poetry
- Groove and Variation
- "Distractions" by Emma Joy Hanley
- "The Woman with Fire Engine Nails" by Caroline Harvey
- Learning your Craft
Lesson 6: Substituting in Iambic Pentameter
- Substituting in Iambic Pentameter
- Themes and Variations
- Creating Emotion
- "After Long Silence" by William Butler Yeats
- Substitutions in "After Long Silence"
- Going Against Expectations
Lesson 7: Writing in Blank Verse
- Writing in Blank Verse
- "Birches" by Robert Frost
- "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- Compositional Tools
- "Spring" by Elisa Lomazzo
- "Christmas Cheer" by Ian Henchy
Lesson 8: Blank Verse Again
- More on Blank Verse
- Blank Verse and Substitutions
- "A Wake" by Ryan Toll
- "Still" by Rachel Borovik
Lesson 9: Using Rhyme
- Using Rhyme
- Sound in Poetry
- Rhyme Schemes
- Perfect Rhyme
- Consonance Rhyme
- More on Consonance Rhyme
- Rhyme Schemes Revisited
- "Ode to the West Wind" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Using Rhyme
Lesson 10: English (or Shakespearean) Sonnet
- English or Shakespearean Sonnet
- Sonnet 29
- Sonnet 73
- "When I Have Fears" by John Keats
- Modern Sonnets
- "Putting in the Seed" by Robert Frost
- "Baby Running Barefoot" by D. H. Lawrence
Lesson 11: Italian (or Petrarchian) Sonnet
- The Italian (or Petrarchian) Sonnet
- The First Eight Lines
- "In Memoriam" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- The Italian Sonnet Road Map
- "Mezzo Cammin" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- "Grief" Elizabeth Barret Browning
- "Design" by Robert Frost
- The ccdeed sestet
- e. e. cummings
- e. e. cummings Variation
Lesson 12: The Terza Rima
- The Terza Rima
- Robert Frost
- The First Quatrain
- The Second Quatrain
- "Ode to the West Wind" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
This course does not have any prerequisites.
English Proficiency Requirements
All students enrolled in this course must know English well enough to:
- Easily understand recorded videos and written class lessons
- Participate successfully in written and oral class discussions
- Read, write, and study without being hindered by language problems
- Possess intermediate or advanced grammar skills related to punctuation and verb conjugation
Though the course uses a rudimentary musical vocabulary, no musical training is required.
- None required
After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. His books, including Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming and Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, are recognized as definitive in their genre, and have earned many ecstatic reviews. His clinics are attended by songwriters all over the country, and his articles appear regularly in a variety of industry publications.
Eric Leva is a songwriter, singer, producer, and classically trained pianist from Massachusetts. Leva has studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and Berklee College of Music. Following his studies, Leva spent time in New York City to hone his craft and develop his writing. A songwriting award from the ASCAP Foundation eventually sparked a move to Los Angeles to pursue more collaborations. His recent releases include Kesha, DNCE, Wes Period, and Rozzi.
Keppie is a performing singer-songwriter and passionate educator. In addition to teaching songwriting and lyric writing for Berklee Online, Keppie teaches songwriting in her hometown of Sydney at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and the Australian Institute of Music.
She combines a technical and theoretical knowledge of music and songwriting with a love and sensitivity for contemporary songwriting, diverse styles, and a desire to help songwriters clarify and communicate their unique voice.
As a professional songwriter, Keppie works in collaboration with many artists—from indie bluegrass Canadians, to major label pop acts, and even heavy metal. She is currently signed to Volkanik Music Publishing.
When taken for credit, Creative Writing: Poetry can be applied towards these associated programs: