Week 10

Dear Poetry Students:

We are slightly past the midway point of the semester and I want to commend you for your excellent weekly posts thus far. This week I will be providing comments on your first essay, which I’ll then ask you to revise.

By tomorrow (Tuesday), I will have posted mid-term grades which can be found in the OpenLab Gradebook on the right side of our site homepage (when you click on Check Your Grade, only your grades will be visible to you, when you are logged in).

The possible midterm grades are as follows: P (Passing), BL (Boderline), U (Unsatisfactory/Failing).  The midterm grade does not get recorded on your transcript in any way; it is more just to let you know how you are doing in the class thus far. Every professor should be giving you a midterm grade by 10/30.

I am also giving you a grade for the collective work you’ve done so far on your posts. When you are finished with your first essay (subsequent to revising it), I will also add this grade. 


In celebration of Halloween, I want to introduce you to one of America’s most famous writers, best known for his horror stories and gothic poetry that have influenced writers into the present: Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe’s most famous work today (and the moment it was published in 1845) was “The Raven.”  The poem relays the grief of a young man who has lost his beloved “Lenore” to a fatal sickness, who hopes she will nonetheless return to earth.  But alas only a black raven shows up seemingly to mock him in his grief. Thus proceeds the questions and answers that structure the poem. The poem is a masterpiece in technical artistry. As you listen to it, note the way Poe creates a haunting setting and captures the deep grief of the poem’s persona. Think about his use of repetition, rhyme, and choice language to capture the rise and fall of the young spirits. This is clearly a poem to be both read AND heard.

 Listen to the poem here: “The Raven”

 Read the poem HERE   

If you really want to have some Halloween fun, check out this link from our Poetry Magazine website:     The short audio poems are particularly nice and scary!  

As we continue our discussion of Political Poetry, I also want to introduce you to an important young Latinx poet: José Olivarez.  For the next two weeks, we will be focusing on the concerns and aesthetics of writers with Spanish American roots. With the election next week, this is a particularly relevant topic, as the Latino vote is said to be exceptionally important in determining who will be our next President (did someone say Florida???).

Please read:

  1. His biographical essay: “Maybe I Could Save Myself by Writing
  2.  His poem: Mexican American Disambiguation
  3. Here is Olivarez reading his great poem:

Post a response to “The Raven,” your favorite Halloween poem (from the site link), or to the essay or poem by Olivarez. Discuss a poetic element or idea that really struck you.

WEEK 9 ACTIVITIES: Extended Paper Deadline (Mon., Oct. 26)

I’ve had a couple of requests for an extended deadline for a draft of your first essay, so I am granting a one week extension.

View video lecture here:


Hi Everyone,

I want to commend the class for writing so well about a number of important poets of the Harlem Renaissance (1919-1940).  While many Harlem poets such as Claude Mckay, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Georgia Douglas Johnson write about the need for equal justice for African Americans, these poets also wrote about broader themes ranging from love for another (in its many forms), celebration of the self, the joys of city living, the pursuit of dreams and American life in and out of Harlem.

For next week, I want you to focus on writing a draft of your first (of two) essays for this course. For reference, keep the following essay in mind  “Writing About Poetry”  as well as the lessons learned from other essays on poetry we have read for this course.

Your essay draft should be approximately 3-5 typed pages (double space/12 font).  I ask that you choose a poet you’ve written on in a post already and discuss two or three of his or her poems. It’s also fine to compare and discuss two poets if you prefer. I encourage you to include (and cite) any material provided on the Poetry Website (including biographical material and cultural context).  DO NOT USE MATERIAL FROM ANY OTHER SITE.

I recommend that you begin with the following outline:

Topic:  Poet (and 2-3 poems) you will discuss

Introduction: What elements will you be focusing on in your discussion? What is the cultural context of the poems? What interesting facts can you tell the reader about your poet? Why did you choose this poet to discuss?

Body Paragraphs (what main ideas will you include for each):

BP#1 (focus:    )

BP#2 (focus:    )

BP#3 (focus:    )

BP#4 (focus:   ) 


Be sure to upload your draft to the google drive on our course site.

Upload HERE

Email me (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu) if you have any additional questions. Please upload your essay by Monday, Oct. 26. 


Watch Video Lecture First

1)  REVIEW  “Writing About Poetry” 

2) READ: INTRODUCTION TO THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE:  “Introduction to the Harlem Renaissance”


4) Begin brainstorming for Essay #1 (decide on a poet and 2-3 poems). You can choose to work on a poet/poem you’ve already posted on or one from the Harlem Renaissance. Let me know your poet/topic by next week.

Topic:  Poet (and 2-3 poems) you will discuss

Introduction: What elements will you be focusing on in your discussion? What is the cultural context of the poems? What interesting facts can you tell the reader about your poet? Why did you choose this poet to discuss?

Body Paragraphs (what main ideas will you include for each):

BP#1 (focus:    ) BP#2 (focus:    ) BP#3 (focus:    ) BP#4 (focus:   )  Conclusion



Hi Students. Keep in mind that Monday (today) is a holiday and tomorrow (Tuesday) follows a Monday schedule. This means that there will be NO office hours tomorrow–Attend your Monday sessions!

You all did a fine job choosing some great poems from the Romantic Tradition and analyzing them carefully. British Romanticism, as you wrote, features intense feelings, an interest in the distant past and forgotten (overlooked) subjects, a love of Nature and the individual. Also important is the immense role of beauty and imagination in fully lived lives.

This week I want to introduce you to the greatest poet of American Romanticism: Walt Whitman. Brooklyn-born Whitman is most famous for his book of poems “Leaves of Grass” which he wrote and expanded his entire life.

Here is his famous opening stanza. Note his celebration of the individual self (“I”), his faith in every human being, his joy of being alive and speaking (and singing) freely.

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

Here is a brief biography of Whitman’s life:


STEP ONE:  READ  “Writing About Poetry” 

STEP TWO: READ a few of  Whitman’s poems (from “Leaves of Grass”) that connect to Nature and animals.

“Walt Whitman at 200”

2 Short Poems:

“A Noiseless, Patient Spider”

“When I Heard the Famed Astronomer”


2 Long Poems:

“Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking”

“When Lilacs Last in Dooryard Bloomed’ (written after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln who he loved very much)





WEEK FIVE ACTIVITIES (Post due: Saturday, Sept. 26)

Video Lecture (Please Watch First)

  1. Read Introduction to British Romanticism

“An Introduction to British Romanticism”

2. Choose one of the “seminal” poems listed below the introduction. Be sure, however, to read several of these poems to get a good sense of Romantic Poetry.

3. Post a response to the poem, focusing on its Romantic aspects, and additional features (imagery, theme, metaphors/similies, tone/attitude, meter, rhyme scheme) that you find interesting. Be sure to cite (bring in) information from the article to clarify its Romantic qualities.

WEEK FOUR ACTIVITIES (due Friday, Sept. 18)



1. Read Rebecca Hazelton’s “Learning About Figurative Language”

2. Post your “Metaphor Mad-Lib” poem.

3. Post your original poem (following directions from A, B, or C).

A. Based on a line from your mad-lib poem

B. An ode to an inanimate object using lots of figurative language

C.  On an abstraction such as love, despair, innocence, loneliness, joy, truth, or trust

Week 7

As I am preparing for our first paper. I came across 3 poems that I think would be really interesting to write about. The poet I chose to write about is Georgia Douglas Johnson. This woman was born in Atlanta, however she migrated to Harlem after sometime and made a huge impact in the Harlem Renaissance. What I admire specifically about her is the fact that she was an ordinary woman. She worked 2 jobs in order to raise her sons alone. This to me speaks an incredible amount of strength that comes from her. The poems I will be discussing in my paper will be : “My Little Dream”, “Smothered fires”, and “Fordoom”. I chose these poems because it still is very relatable to women today as well as 100 years ago. However it also shows the impact inequality and racism had on the society during the Harlem Renaissance. The fact that you can feel what people were going through while reading her poems means it is still effective today. One of the quotes that immediately grabbed my attention is from “My Little Dream” the quote states “I am folding up my little dreams within my heart tonight, and praying I may soon forget the torture of their sight “ This line stood out to me the most because it is extremely hard for women, especially women of color to chase their dreams. We are always told what we should be doing from a very young age. Whether that mean being a mom or wife or cooking and cleaning. Women weren’t expected to have dreams during this time especially. It is even more harsh for women of color because they seem to be put last when it came to having equality amongst the genders. I would like to elaborate more in my essay. I don’t want to rant too much on this post.

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