An Overview of Formalist (Classical) Poetry

"Writing free verse is like playing tennis without a net"

-Quote attributable to renowned American poet Robert Frost.

This course introduces the student to what true poetry is all about. Verse, not prose, or any of the sub-species of "poetry" in between, is the only form of poetry that truly deserves to called poetry. That is, this class introduces the new student to what today is called "Formalist" verse, though some still call it "Classical" poetry.

We will first study some of the great verse poets from the classical age: Milton ("Paradise, Lost"), Shakespeare (154 Sonnets, most notably, Sonnet 18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"), and others. We will then move on to the practical, creative, and technical aspects of composing our own formalist poetry.

Since this class will only be one session, our discussion of sonnets will focus on the two primary forms of classical sonnets: Shakespearean and Petrachan. In addition to the specific meter employed in classical sonnets (iambic pentameter--there are many styles of meter), we will also learn about the two corresponding rhyme schemes: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG (Shakespearean) and ABBA ABBA CDCDCD or CDECDE (Perachan).

In the future I will teach a 6-week expanded course on formalist poetry for students wanting to continue pursuing their studies of formalist (classical poetry). Details of future class TBD.

Style of Offering : 1.5 hours. 20-minute online presentation followed by 20-minute question and answer, followed by 20-minute in-class writing exercise. 5-minute break, repeat,
Max Number of Attendees: 15
Date and Time : Open - most likely evening or weekend.