Poetry intimidates me because I don't understand it. I've never really tried to understand it because I've been too scared. (Recognize the cycle there?)
As a lover of literature shouldn't I already be able to read and discuss poetry? Is that skill something people are born with? Is there a How To Read Poetry for Dummies book? (Ha, there is!)
Neal at English Major vs. the World recently posted about Coursera. It is a company that partners with universities to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. As I was looking through their offerings I saw this class: Modern and Contemporary American Poetry
About the Course
In this fast-paced course we will read and encounter and discuss a great range of modern and contemporary U.S. poets working in the "experimental mode," starting with the 19th-century proto-modernists Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and ending with 21st-century conceptual poetics. Aside from providing a perhaps handy or helpful survey and chronology of 20th- and 21st-century poetry, this course offers a way of understanding general cultural transitions from modernism to postmodernism. Some people may wish to enroll as much to gain an understanding of the modernism/postmodernism problem through a study of poetry as to gain access to the work of these many poets. Participants do not need to have any prior knowledge of poetry or poetics. The instructor, Al Filreis, rarely lectures, and frequently calls for "the end of the lecture as we know it"; instead, most of the video-recorded lessons will consist of collaborative close readings led by Filreis, seminar-style -- offering models or samples of readers' interpretations of these knotty but powerful poems, aided by the poetry-minded denizens of the Kelly Writers House on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
I signed up even though I'm a little bit terrified.
Wish me luck!!
Special thanks to Blue Print Review for also pointing out this class to me, I appreciate it!