Poetry Assignment: Instructions for Revisions

Revision is an important part of creative writing. In some ways, the revision process is where the real creative process begins.This post offers instructions for revisions and the  Revision Note required for this second round. Those who are turning in late assignments will not have the chance to revise them again.

Revisions and late papers are due by the end of the day on Tuesday, March 22. Revisions and late papers must be turned in on time. No poetry assignments will accepted after that day.

If you wish to review the original Poetry Assignment, look HERE.


  • Read my comments on your work on Blackboard.
  • Reread your own work aloud to yourself or to a listener if you have it (friend, relative, pet, etc.) You can read in person, on the phone, on FaceTime, or in any manner. The act of hearing your own words aloud is the important piece.
  • Make changes on your work as you see necessary.
  • At the top of your revision, write a Revision Note following the instructions below. (Revisions submitted without this letter will not be considered for a higher grade.) Though I must understand what you are stating, grammar is not a part of the assessment for the Revision Note.
  • Why am I asking for a Revision Note? See  below.
  • Submit the revision with the Revision Note to Blackboard on time in the Major Assignments folder which will reopen on Sunday, March 20 and close at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 22 when all revisions and late papers will be graded.

Revision Note

      1. In the first paragraph, tell the reader what you intend the poems to do for the reader. Reflect on the purpose or the effect you want the overall assignment to have on the readers. You might also write about how comments from your peers or the instructor might have helped you and which class resources might have helped you, such as the readings or class discussions.
      2. In the second paragraph, describe the your process of working on the revision. Tell the reader what changes you made on this revision and why. This will let me know how to compare the new draft you are turning in with the first draft to consider the effort you’ve made when I reconsider the assignment grade.

Note: After you’ve drafted this process letter, think about whether the changes you mention match up with the revision that follows. Will I be able to see the changes in your work that your letter suggests? If not, then use the letter as a revising tool to make a few more adjustments to your revision. Then, turn in the revision and Revision Note, preferably as a single pdf document, on time in the Major Assignments folder on Blackboard.


Reminder: Poetry Assignment Due by the End of the Day, March 15


Just a reminder that the Poetry Assignment folder, which is open on Blackboard, will close at 11:59 Tuesday, March 15. Upload your poems before that time. As was discussed the past week, writers who submit assignments submitted on time will have an opportunity to revise their work.

A direct link to instructions for the Poetry Assignment is here: Poetry Assignment. Remember, you are turning in two poems that explore two different forms of poetry discussed in this class.

Poetry Assignment

Poetry Assignment

Assignment Description

In class we have discussed and read examples of the following poetic forms:

  • Sestina
  • Pantoum
  • Abecedarian
  • Free verse

You have also practiced them—with some impressive results–on class discussion boards and in class. A complete review of the poetic forms is in this post: Review of Poetic Forms and Poetic Terms

For this assignment, you will create, workshop, and revise two different poetic forms, based on our exploration of these forms through reading and writing exercises. You can use work you’ve already posted in our class as starting points for your submission.

 Submission Requirements

For this assignment, you must submit two poems exploring  two different forms we’ve discussed in class. You can develop poems you’ve already started in class through exercises and on the discussion boards. Or, you can start new poems using the guidelines for each form that we have discussed.

Each of the following count as one poem:

  1. 1 complete sestina with a title: 6 stanzas of 6 lines, and one 3 line envoi (39 lines total) with a title
  2. 1 complete pantoum with a title: 4 stanzas of four lines (16 lines total) with a title
  3. 1 abedecarian poem with a title: the whole alphabet (26 lines long)
  4. 1 free verse poem with a title: at least 15 lines long

Note: for the assignment, you must explore two different options. For example, your might turn in one free verse and one pantoum. Or, one abecedarian and one sestina.

Due Dates

DUE: Thursday, March 10, 2:30 pm in-class: bring your poems to class for our peer review. Note that workshop participation is configured into the overall grade. You can bring your poems printed out or on a device that you can pass around to your peers.

DUE: Tuesday, March 15, end of the day, on Blackboard: upload your poetry assignment as a pdf or word file for a grade assessment from the instructor.

To do well on the assignment

  • Observe the submission requirements and turn in a complete assignment
  • Show effort and thoughtfulness in your writing. This is an introductory course. You are not expected to be an expert poet. You are expected to show that you are trying.
  • Show general understanding of the specific poetic forms you have chosen
  • Participate in the Peer Review  and reviewing your peers’ work in class on Thursday, March 10.
  • Turn the assignment by the end of the day on Tuesday, March 15 on Blackboard. If you turn the assignment in on time, you will have time to revise your work.

Lateness and Revision Policy


If you turn in the work on SafeAssign on time, you will have one chance to revise the assignment. Instructions for revisions will be provided.

Late Assignments

If you do not turn in the assignment on the due date on Blackboard, you can turn in your assignment on the revision due date. Late papers do not lose points for being late. You will, however, lose your chance to revise your work.

Poetry Assignment Grading Rubric

Poetry Rubric Fall 2021


ENG 1141: We meet tomorrow, March 8, at 2:30 pm


I am back, in good health, look forward to writing with you tomorrow in our classroom: 2:30 pm in Namm 521. To keep us on track with assignments for the semester, I’ve made a couple of changes to this week’s activities.

  1. For class tomorrow, March 8, please bring two verses or stanzas from a favorite song. We will use them for an in-class poetry writing exercise.
  2. In class tomorrow, after the poetry writing exercise, we will review the Poetry Assignment together. You are preparing two of the poems you’ve written in this class for submission, using submission guidelines that will be available on the OpenLab. We will go over the assignment in class tomorrow.
  3. The Poetry Quiz will now be completed as homework  on Blackboard after tomorrow’s class. I will go over the procedure in tomorrow’s class. You will have 24 hours to login and complete the quiz, which will have a 40 minute time limit.
  4. Remember to write your abecedarian on our Discussion Board by the end of the day today. Many of you have done this but a few need to participate. This discussion board is how I’m taking attendance for our asynchronous session for March 3 (last Thursday). The discussion board is here for you to participate or read: Discussion Board : Abecedarian Poems.
  5. Another reminder: I have office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5 pm on ZOOM. See the blackboard folder for the address.

Stay healthy all and see you tomorrow!

Prof. Sears (Email: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu)


Discussion Board Notes: Abecedarian Poems

Abecedarian Notes:

I’m impressed by the new abecedarians on the OpenLab site. In these eleven posts, there are discussions of dreams, of cities, of frustration with world politics, …… Your work with the challenging letters has also proved productive.

If you have not posted, please remember that participation on this board will count as attendance for Thursday, March 3. The discussion board link is at the bottom of this post.

Here are some notes from those who have participated so far:

Ester bravely writes first and gives the reader a keyhole view of a sunny day in New York. Waiting for a subway becomes  wonderfully “xanthic” or yellowish. Dominic explores a bleak society writing, “no more are the times of reason, is such times have ever been present in this world.” Notice how his ideas break through the lines and how he incorporates the words xenocide and zealot. Jeanpierre writes about a character who dreams of being an actor and the frustration of seeking success until the actor receives a mysterious call from Xander (good way to use that X!) Muztahid writes philosophically about maintaining childhood dreams in a world shaped by pain. Notice how he returns to childhood with its imagined “xilinous” beasts but ends with a stoic look at the present. Ashiley gives us a love poem, using those tricky letters in words that often come up in relationships: vexation and yearning, feelings zapped away from the heart. Cesar writes about the challenge of the monotony of unfulfilling jobs and dreaming of vacation time with “xanthic” sunshine.

Alice’s abecedarian creates a world of animals, using the letters in some places to create names including a fish named Joseph, a very big fish, who makes a snack of Henry the Penguin, but they are all endangered by the “xenophobic” poacher. Xiang writes about gaming, using some of the letters to name characters including  a hero named Jinx and on the team Kayle, Morgana, Nunu, and Pantheon. (By the way, the header of our OpenLab class site is taken from below the oculus of the Roman pantheon.) Janet writes of an intense circus of young people who experience joy that is “quixotic” but wicked dialogues sometimes turn sadly xenophobic.

Xinhong writes about one of those rare good days when life serves too much cake but leaves enough time to play the xylophone! Mary writes about friendship, using the challenging letters to talk about quitting, individual uniqueness and values, and howling at the moon.

Here is the link to the Discussion Board-Abecedarian Poems. Post before the end of the day today, March 7:


ENG 1141: Abecedarian Description and Examples

The abecedarian form and The form: an abecedarian is a poetic form that uses the alphabet (for our course we are using the English alphabet). Many students in this class have enjoyed this form as it can be less constricting than the other forms we have tried, but has some structure to start you off.

Read this example of an abecedarian from our OpenLab site by the Native American poet Natalie Diaz. Notice the lettering on the far left of each line if your read it down spells out the English alphabet:

Natalia Diaz, Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Reservation

This more experimental abecedarian by John Bosworth also works its way through the letter Z:

Abecedarian by John Bosworth

Here also is a description of the abecedarian form from the Poetry Foundation with some more examples:


After exploring the above examples and descriptions, try to write an abecderian poem working your way through the letter Z. The lines can be any length. You can certainly use a dictionary for ideas for those pesky letters: q, x, and z. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

To get started, you might do a free write by trying any one of the writing prompts on Writers Notebook Poetry Prompts or do the free writing class we were going to do in class: The Last Time I Saw You. For that freewrite, you begin writing for five minutes with that phrase: the last time I saw you…….if you get stuck, write the phrase again: the last time I saw you and keep going.

After you have written your abecedarian, post it on the Discussion Board: HERE.

Also see the items in the To-Do List: Abecedarian Form. The discussion board is also listed there.






Review of Poetic Forms and Poetic Terms

Below is a list of the poetic terms and forms we’ve discussed in course activities and lectures:

For the Poetry Quiz on Thursday, March 3:

Here is what to study for the short answer and multiple choice section of the quiz:

You will also be asked to  brainstorm and freewrite on a a designated topic incorporating one simile or metaphor. (1 paragraph) This free write does not have to be a poem.



Two student sestina stanzas from last semester

As an additional follow up to Session 6 (see all follow-up links here), here are two student examples from last semester’s discussion board on the sestina. Remember you only have to do two, but you can write the full 36 lines of the sestina if you are inspired.

Example 1:

Words: bat, crime, people, mind, building, man

In the night he sees the BAT
a hero to some always stopping CRIME
his job, his calling save the PEOPLE
his only weapon, his MIND
watching atop of BUILDING
in reality he’s just a MAN

trying to be more than just a MAN
behind the walls of the BUILDING
he tries to stop the worst CRiME
some nights he can’t save the PEOPLE
those nights his greatest weapon is his greatest weakness, his MIND
in the end he’s just a BAT

Example 2:

Words: Dad, restaurant, food, fire, hands, home

Here is my dad,
working in his restaurant.
He will cook the food,
the wok on intense fire,
the drops of hot oil drop on his hands.
Late always he comes home.

Makes me wonder does he misses home?
I wonder because he is my dad.
I once saw his rough hands,
they were formed in his restaurant.
One cause, is the high fire.
Another, the heavy and amount of cook food.

Customers will order for food.
He hardly cook at home.
Does he ever hate this stove fire?
I am not blaming my dad.
I know he work hard in his restaurant.
I just want some rest to be on his hands.

And not just his hands.
A break from cooking food.
A break from his restaurant.
A break to be home.
A break for my dad.
A break from burning fire.

The discussion board is here: Session 6: Writing the Sestina


Breaking the Line Discussion Board and LAF Contest


Great work on the Discussion Board! Some of you are doing interesting things with line breaks, in particular Scanio and Janet Lu! See them on the board (and you can still post if you haven’t). The link is HERE. Remember to log in if you are trying to post.

I’ll see you soon in class at 2:30 pm! I’ll mention this also in class, but here is information about submitting work to the LAF contest and attending the event on ZOOM with poet Layli Long Soldier.

2022 Literary Arts Festival Writing Competition Final


Session 3: Discussion Board and Follow Up Links

Nice seeing everyone today in class. For homework, do the following two things:

  1. Post the poem written in class on the discussion board. Only one person per pair needs to post, but be sure to list both names on the board. The link to the discussion board is here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/eng1141-sears-sp2022/forum/topic/session-3-discussion-board-shared-composition/
  2. Read Jose Olivarez’s poem “Getting Ready to Tell My Dad I Love You, It Rains” for our class on Tuesday. This post also has the poem we read in today’s class, “Mexican American Disambiguation.”

See you in class on Tuesday, Feb. 15!