Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop Course Reviews

Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop is a poetry course offered on Coursera, created by Douglas Kearney, a renowned poet and educator.

Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop Course Reviews
Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop Course Reviews

The course is designed to help aspiring poets develop and refine their poetic skills through various writing exercises and workshops.

Throughout the course, students are exposed to different forms, styles, and techniques of poetry, aiming to broaden their understanding of the craft. The emphasis is on experimentation and pushing the boundaries of traditional poetry, encouraging students to explore innovative and unconventional approaches to their writing.

The course covers a range of topics related to poetry, including imagery, metaphor, sound, rhythm, and structure. Students learn how to create vivid and evocative imagery, how to use metaphor effectively, and how to manipulate sound and rhythm to enhance the impact of their poems. They also explore different poetic structures and experiment with form.

The workshop aspect of the course plays a vital role. Students share their work with peers and receive feedback and critique, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment for growth and improvement. Kearney provides guidance and insight throughout the course, offering feedback on assignments and facilitating discussions to encourage critical thinking and exploration of poetic concepts.

By the end of the course, students should have a portfolio of original poems and an expanded toolbox of poetic techniques. They should also have a deeper appreciation for the art of poetry and a heightened ability to analyze and interpret poetic works.

Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop is suitable for both beginners and more experienced poets who wish to refine their skills and explore new possibilities in their writing. It offers a structured and engaging learning experience, combining instructional videos, writing assignments, peer feedback, and instructor guidance to help students become more accomplished and confident poets.

Course Content:

Why just write poems when you can write better ones? This course is built on the notion that the most exciting writing begins after the first draft. It is specifically for folks who believe that writing poems just to express oneself is like using the Internet just for email. After all, poetry can change the way you and your readers think of the world and its inhabitants; it can break new ground for language; turn a blank sheet of paper into a teeming concert of voices and music.

Though any of us may have the potential to make that happen, having an understanding of how several tools of poetic composition can be used (and audaciously “mis-used”) gives you more ways to try (and if we do this right, we might surprise ourselves most of all).

We'll cover key poetic terms and devices by studying poems by a handful of modern and contemporary poets and then get a chance to try our own hand at writing new poem drafts from a select number of prompts. Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to workshop your poem drafts and get feedback on your work, working towards a more polished poem.

The Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop course by Douglas Kearney on Coursera consists of 6 weeks, each with several lectures and assignments. Here is a breakdown of the course:

Week 1: Introduction and the Poetic Line

8 videos (Total 20 min), 6 readings, 1 quiz

8 videos

Why Take This Course? 1m

The Workshop Process 3m

Workshopping in a MOOC, part1 1m

The Starting Line4mRack ‘em Up: Gwendolyn Brooks' We Real Cool 1m

We/Read Close. We/Take note.  4m

Game Over 1m

Poetry Prompt 1: Line 2m

6 readings

Syllabus5mInstructor Presence and Staff Support 1m

Workshopping in a MOOC, part2 8m

Academic Integrity 2m

Course Resources 3m

Week 1 Summary 8m

1 practice exercise

On the Line 30m


Week 2: Abstraction and Image

5 videos (Total 14 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz

5 videos

What Does a Concept Smell Like? 3m

Beauty’s in the Eye of the Bewildered: Harryette Mullen's [if your complexion is a mess.] 1m

The Wonky Chocolate Factory 4m

Read in the Shade 2m

Poetry Prompt 2: Abstraction & Image 2m

1 reading

Week 2 Summary 8m

1 practice exercise

Abstraction & Image 30m


Week 3: Metaphor and Other Formulas of Difference

Most of us think of simile and metaphor, personification and other similar figures of speech as being about similarities between objects, concepts, and entities. But the juice in these formulas comes from how different the two things being compared seem to be. This is why writing: “the shark moved like a fish” is, alone, a lot less interesting than saying “the shark moved like a squad car.” We’ll talk about how playing with difference via juxtaposition can create a range of poetic effects. Then you’ll write a poem built of one robustly developed or several contrasting juxtapositions.

We'll end this module with yet another quiz, and our first poetry workshop -- facilitated through a peer assessed assignment.

5 videos (Total 18 min), 1 reading, 2 quizzes

5 videos

It is What it Isn’t 7m

Home Cooking: Victor Hernández Cruz's Red Beans 1m

Lilies and Lava 4m

After Dinner Meant 1m

Poetry Prompt 3: Metaphor 2m

1 reading

Week 3 Summary 8m

1 practice exercise

Metaphor 30m


Week 4: Rhyme

5 videos (Total 14 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz

5 videos

Read Any Good Snooks Lately? 3m

There’s No “A” in Showdown: Cathy Park Hong's Ballad in A 1m

Lipo-what?! 5m

What That Was 2m

Poetry Prompt 4: Rhyme 1m

1 reading

Week 4 Summary 8m

1 practice exercise

Rhyme 30m


Week 5: Rhythm

6 videos (Total 21 min), 1 reading, 2 quizzes

6 videos

Give the Drummer Some! 7m

Rock “The Bells”: Edgar Allan Poe's The Bells 1m

Put A Ring On It 4m

For Whom the Bell Falls 4m

Clap Clap Clap 54s

Poetry Prompt 5: Rhythm 2m

1 reading

Week 5 Summary 8m

1 practice exercise

Rhythm 30m


Week 6: Sharpened Poetry: Revision Strategies


11 videos (Total 26 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz

11 videos

Introduction 1m

What is Revision? 3m

Where Do I Start Revising? 2m

How Do I Start Revising a Poem I’ve Written in Form? 3m

How do I Incorporate Workshop Feedback Into the Revision Process? 4m

Revision Recap 41s

Give Yourself A Break 1m

Furniture and Figures 2m

Just in the Nick of Rhyme 2m

Rhythm-a-Ning-a-Gain 3m

Final Thoughts 1m

1 reading

Course Credits 8m




As a former student who has completed the Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop course by Douglas Kearney on Coursera, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in honing their poetry writing skills. The course exceeded my expectations in several aspects, making it a valuable and enriching learning experience.

First and foremost, Douglas Kearney's expertise as a poet and educator shines throughout the course. His deep knowledge of poetry, coupled with his innovative approach, offers a fresh perspective on the craft. Kearney's instructional videos are engaging, thought-provoking, and filled with practical advice and examples that inspired me to think critically and push the boundaries of my own writing.

The workshop aspect of the course was particularly beneficial. Sharing my work with peers and receiving feedback allowed me to gain valuable insights and perspectives. The constructive critique from both Kearney and fellow students helped me identify strengths and areas for improvement in my writing. The collaborative environment fostered by Kearney created a supportive community that encouraged experimentation and growth.

The course content was well-structured, covering a wide range of topics essential to poetry writing. From exploring imagery and metaphor to delving into sound and rhythm, each module offered valuable lessons and practical exercises that helped me develop my poetic skills. Kearney's emphasis on experimentation and pushing the boundaries of traditional poetry challenged me to think creatively and explore new avenues in my writing.

Furthermore, the assignments and discussions encouraged me to think deeply about the concepts introduced in each module. Analyzing and providing feedback on my peers' work not only improved my critical thinking skills but also expanded my appreciation for different poetic styles and voices.

One aspect that could be further enhanced is the interaction with the instructor. While Kearney provided valuable feedback on assignments, more direct engagement with him through live Q&A sessions or discussions would have added an extra layer of connection and guidance.

Overall, Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop is a transformative course for aspiring poets. Douglas Kearney's expertise, coupled with the well-designed curriculum and workshop format, creates an environment that nurtures creativity, fosters growth, and expands one's understanding of poetry. I finished the course with a greater confidence in my writing abilities and a deeper appreciation for the art of poetry.

At the time, the course has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 1,605 ratings.

What you'll learn:

After completing the Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop course by Douglas Kearney on Coursera, students gain a range of skills in poetry writing. Here are some of the skills that participants can expect to develop:

  1. Poetic Craft: Students acquire a solid understanding of the foundational elements of poetry, including imagery, metaphor, sound, rhythm, and structure. They learn how to use these techniques effectively to create powerful and evocative poems.

  2. Experimentation: The course encourages students to explore and experiment with different poetic forms, styles, and approaches. They learn to push the boundaries of traditional poetry and develop their unique voice and style.

  3. Creative Thinking: Participants cultivate their creative thinking skills by engaging in various writing exercises and workshops. They learn to approach poetry from different angles and perspectives, expanding their imaginative and conceptual abilities.

  4. Critical Analysis: Through discussions and assignments, students develop the ability to critically analyze and interpret poetry. They learn how to identify and appreciate the techniques and strategies used by poets and apply this knowledge to their own work.

  5. Feedback and Collaboration: The workshop component of the course provides students with opportunities to share their work with peers and receive constructive feedback. They learn how to give and receive feedback effectively, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment.

  6. Portfolio Development: By the end of the course, students should have built a portfolio of original poems, demonstrating their growth and development as poets. They learn how to curate their work and present it in a cohesive and meaningful way.

  7. Appreciation for Poetry: Through exposure to diverse poetic works and discussions, students gain a deeper appreciation for the art of poetry. They develop a critical eye for quality poetry and a broader understanding of the historical and contemporary landscape of the craft.

Overall, completing the Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop course equips students with the necessary skills and knowledge to write poetry effectively, encourages them to think creatively, and fosters a supportive community of poets.


Douglas Kearney is a highly acclaimed poet and educator known for his innovative and experimental approach to poetry. With a remarkable command of language and a deep understanding of the craft, Kearney has established himself as a prominent figure in contemporary poetry.

As an educator, Kearney has shared his passion for poetry with countless students. He has taught creative writing and poetry workshops at various universities and institutions, inspiring and mentoring aspiring poets. Through his teaching, Kearney emphasizes the importance of pushing boundaries, taking risks, and challenging traditional norms in poetry.

Kearney's expertise lies in his ability to seamlessly blend different poetic forms, styles, and techniques. He explores the intersection of spoken word, performance, and written poetry, creating a dynamic and engaging body of work. His poems often tackle complex social and cultural issues, demonstrating a keen observational eye and a thought-provoking perspective.

One of Kearney's notable strengths is his mastery of imagery and metaphor. He crafts vivid and evocative language that paints a rich tapestry of sensory experiences. His use of metaphor is both skillful and inventive, adding layers of meaning and depth to his poetry.

In addition to his exceptional writing skills, Kearney is highly regarded for his ability to foster a supportive and collaborative learning environment. He encourages his students to explore their unique voices and to experiment with different forms and techniques. Kearney's workshops and feedback sessions are known for their constructive and insightful nature, providing students with valuable guidance and encouragement.

Overall, Douglas Kearney is a poet and educator who brings a fresh and innovative perspective to the world of poetry. His mastery of language, his willingness to experiment, and his dedication to teaching make him a highly respected figure in the literary community. His contributions have undoubtedly enriched the field of poetry and continue to inspire and influence aspiring poets around the world.


The Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop course, created by Douglas Kearney, has several requirements for students. Here is a list of the course requirements:

  1. Access to a computer or mobile device: Students need a device with internet access to participate in the course. This can be a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

  2. Basic proficiency in English: The course is conducted in English, so students should have a good command of the English language to understand the instructional materials, engage in discussions, and complete assignments.

  3. Interest in poetry: Participants should have a genuine interest in poetry and a desire to explore and develop their poetic skills. A passion for creative writing and an open-minded approach to experimenting with different poetic forms and styles are highly encouraged.

  4. Time commitment: Like any course, "Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop" requires a certain time commitment. Students should allocate sufficient time to watch instructional videos, complete assignments, participate in discussions, and provide feedback to their peers.

  5. Willingness to give and receive feedback: The course emphasizes a workshop environment where students share their work and provide constructive feedback to their peers. Participants should be willing to actively engage in the feedback process, offering thoughtful critiques and being open to receiving feedback on their own work.

  6. Commitment to personal growth: The course encourages personal growth as a poet. Students should approach the course with a growth mindset, being open to new ideas and perspectives, and embracing the opportunity to expand their poetic skills and understanding.

While these are the general requirements for the Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop course, it's worth noting that specific technical requirements or additional prerequisites may be outlined by the platform offering the course, such as having a Coursera account or meeting certain software or hardware specifications.

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