poem index

Resources for Teachers

Since the launch of Poets.org, the Academy of American Poets has been dedicated to providing resources to help educators bring poetry into the classroom. For teachers who want to engage their students with the art of poetry, here are activities, reading guides, and articles about reading, writing, and teaching poetry. If you want to keep up to date with our educational content and programming, sign up for our Educator Newsletter.


Poetry Glossary

apostrophe: a direct address of an inanimate object, abstract qualities, or a person not living or present
Example: “Beware, O Asparagus, you’ve stalked my last meal.”

blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter

dactylic (dactyl): a metrical foot containing three syllables—the first is stressed, while the last two are unstressed

elision: the omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable to preserve the meter of a line of poetry
Example: “Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame”

free verse: lines with no prescribed pattern or structure

hyperbole: exaggeration for emphasis (the opposite of understatement)
Example: “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

iambic pentameter: a traditional form of rising meter consisting of lines containing five iambic feet (and, thus, ten syllables)

irony: a contradiction of expectation between what is said and what is meant (verbal irony) or what is expected in a particular circumstance or behavior (situational), or when a character speaks in ignorance of a situation known to the audience or other characters (dramatic)
Example: “Time held me green and dying / Though I sang in my chains like the sea”

metonymy: a word or phrase that replaces the name of an object or concept for another to which it is related
Example: “We have always remained loyal to the crown" instead of "We have always remained loyal to the monarchy."

personification: the endowment of inanimate objects or abstract concepts with animate or living qualities
Example: “Time let me play / and be golden in the mercy of his means”

pun: play on words, or a humorous use of a single word or sound with two or more implied meanings; quibble
Example: “They’re called lessons . . . because they lessen from day to day.”

quatrain: four-line stanza or grouping of four lines of verse

rhyme: correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse

rising meter: meter containing metrical feet that move from unstressed to stressed syllables

synesthesia: an attempt to fuse different senses by describing one in terms of another
Example: the sound of her voice was sweet

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A Poet's Glossary

A Poet’s Glossary (Harcourt, 2014) is a followup to Edward Hirsch’s best-selling book How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (Harcourt, 1999). Readers called for an expansion of the book’s addendum of poetic terms, and Hirsch responded by creating an international and inclusive collection.

From A Poet's Glossary: Couplet

"The couplet, two successive lines of poetry, usually rhymed (aa), has been an elemental stanzaic unit—a couple, a pairing—as long as there has been written rhyming poetry in English."

From A Poet's Glossary: Epic

"The epic is inherently nostalgic. It looks back to greater and more heroic times—the emergence of tribes, the founding of countries, the deeds of legendary figures."

From A Poet's Glossary: Prose Poem

"The prose poem takes advantage of its hybrid nature — it avails itself of the elements of prose (what Dryden called “the other harmony of prose”) while foregrounding the devices of poetry."

From A Poet's Glossary: Surrealism

"The term surréaliste was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire in 1917 to suggest a dramatic attempt to go beyond the limits of an agreed-upon 'reality.'"

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Reading Guides

Poets.org Guide to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

"By some fortunate conversion of mysticism, talent, and singular vision of humanity, in 1855, Walt Whitman published his first edition of Leaves of Grass, a slim volume consisting of twelve untitled poems and a preface. He designed the cover, and typeset and paid for the printing of the book himself. Well-known poems in the 1855 edition include 'I Sing the Body Electric,' 'The Sleepers,' and 'Song of Myself,' a long poem in fifty-two sections, which is considered by many to be his masterpiece."

Poets.org Guide to Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

"Influenced most by the Bible, Shakespeare, and the seventeenth century metaphysicals (noted for their extravagant metaphors in linking disparate objects), she wrote poems on grief, love, death, loss, affection, and longing. Her presumed reading in the natural sciences, also reconstructed from a study of her family library, allowed her to bring precision and individuality to natural subjects; she observed nature for itself rather than as a testament to the glory of creation, and touched upon the less beautiful aspects of nature, such as weeds and clover. Her forms were various and included riddles, declarations, complaints, love songs, stories, arguments, prayers, and definitions."

A Reading Guide to Langston Hughes

"In Langston Hughes’s landmark essay, 'The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,' first published in The Nation in 1926, he writes, 'An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he must choose.' Freedom of creative expression, whether personal or collective, is one of the many legacies of Hughes, who has been called 'the architect' of the black poetic tradition."



How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch

"Since the form of a poem is part of its meaning (for example, features such as repetition and rhyme may amplify or extend the meaning of a word or idea, adding emphasis, texture, or dimension), we believe that questions about form and technique, about the observable features of a poem, provide an effective point of entry for interpretation. To ask some of these questions, you’ll need to develop a good ear for the musical qualities of language, particularly how sound and rhythm relate to meaning. This approach is one of many ways into a poem."

Writing the Past: Using Poetry to Explore Family History by Benjamin Gott

"The weekend after my conferences ended, I puzzled over the ways in which I, an English teacher, could try to bridge this communication gap through a writing assignment. I realized that one of the benefits of conversations with our family members is that it allows us access to stories about our past. Several years ago, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and, as his condition worsened, I realized that there were so many questions about our family that I had never asked him and that now would remain unanswered, that there were so many stories locked up inside his increasingly-jumbled mind that would never be told. I knew that the only way to pass on meaningful pieces of family history was through conversations—the same conversations that my students’ parents said were lacking in their lives."

How I Teach Poetry in the Schools by Jack Collom

"The focal point of the school, organizationally and mood-wise, is the principal. School principals, I find, may be helpful or not particularly, or may delegate helpfulness, but seldom trouble the poetry program as long as one is on time and seems confident. There’s little, however, the visiting poet can do about the mood of the whole school. One operates class by class, where the teachers are supremely important. The teacher is the bellwether of the class, of its developed attention. When the teacher writes along with the student, or simply listens alertly, this participation catalyzes the whole room."

Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? by Kenneth Koch

"For several years before, I had been teaching poetry writing to many of these children, and they liked it so much that I thought there must be a way to help them read and enjoy great poetry by adults. I found a way to do it, in conjunction with my students’ own writing, which enabled the children to get close to the adult poems and to understand and enjoy them. What I did, in fact, was to make these adult poems a part of their own writing. I taught reading poetry and writing poetry as one subject. I brought them together by means of 'poetry ideas,' which were suggestions I would give to the children for writing poems of their own in some way like the poems they were studying."

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How to Eat a Poem

How to Eat a Poem

Focusing on popular verse from the nineteenth century through today, this anthology invites young readers to sample a taste of irresistible poems that will nourish their minds and spirits.

Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters

Edited by former United States poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters (W. W. Norton, 2013) comprises the poet’s favorite poems.

Teaching with Fire

A book of poems and the teachers who love them, Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach is a collection for and about passionate educators who continue to be inspired by poetry in their teaching.

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation

Edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick and introduced by Carolyn Forché, this anthology features one hundred poems by one hundred acclaimed younger poets from diverse backgrounds and points of view.

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Around the Web

Quick Links

Poetry & Language Arts
Poetry Curricula & Curricula Resources 
Writers in the Schools Programs
Education Technology 
Conferences, Workshops & Festivals
Professional Development


Poetry & Language Arts

American Verse Project

A collaboration between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative and the University of Michigan Press that is working to develop a comprehensive archive of American poetry prior to 1920.

Community~Word Project 
The Community-Word Project is a not-for-profit New York City-based arts-in-education literacy program.

Favorite Poem Project 
A program developed by former United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, features video of Americans reciting their favorite poems. Also offers teaching ideas from instructors who have incorporated the program into their classrooms.

Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program 
Information on the Dodge Poetry Program, geared towards helping high school teachers bring poetry to the classroom, as well as information on the biennieal Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey.

Glossary of Poetic Terms
Extensive glossary from the University of Toronto covering a broad range of definitions and examples.

Modern American Poetry 
A site offering information on modern American poets and poems, including close readings of poems, biographical information on poets, historical background, essays, and more.

Poet's Corner 
A vast site that houses author, title, and subject indexes, biographies, photographs, and more.

Representative Poetry Online 
University of Toronto's English Department website. Includes a large, searchable database of poets and poems, an extensive poetic terms glossary, as well as various critical essays.

SUNY Buffalo's Electronic Poetry Center 
Showcases poems integrating technology; these poems include graphics, hyperlinks within text, and innovative uses of other contemporary technologies. A good source for ideas on how to integrate technology into your poetry curriculum.


Poetry Curricula & Curricula Resources   

Classroom Poetry Kit
HarperCollins Children's Books presents a Classroom Poetry Kit with curriculum-focused teaching materials that are based on the poetry of Shel Silverstein and are geared to children of all ages.

The Close Reading of Poetry
Designed for high school and college freshmen, this informative guide "walks" students through the process of closely reading a poem while asking questions and providing key definitions.

EdSITEment Literature and Language Arts
Offers lesson plans and an extensive list of links to other high quality education websites.

Poetry 180 A poem a day for American high schools.
Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins's education initiative, which includes a poem for each day of the academic year.


Writers in the Schools Programs   

Alaska State Council on the Arts
Teachers may apply for matching funds grants for a writer residency.

Arizona Commission on the Arts
Teachers may apply for a matching grant for two- to four-week writer residencies.

California Poets in the Schools
A writers-in-the-schools program that provides workshops taught by published poets to rural and urban communities.

Delaware Division of the Arts
A literature residency can be obtained via a Project Support or Opportunity grant.

District of Columbia Commission on the Arts & Humanities
Writers residencies can be organized by applying for The Arts Education Project Grant.

Florida Division of Cultural Affairs
Writer and artist residencies can be arranged by contacting the Division of Cultural Affairs, located at bottom of page.

Georgia Council for the Arts
Georgia's Artists-in-Education program will provide matching funds for up to $475 per week.

Idaho Commission on the Arts
Offers Creative Writing and other arts residencies.

Idaho: The Cabin
A Literary Center in Idaho that, among other literary endeavors, runs a Writers in the Schools (WITS) program.

Illinois Arts Council
Provides residencies lasting from one to six months through their Arts in Education program.

Iowa Arts Council
Kentucky Arts CouncilAwards from $2,325 to $5,760 for Literary Arts and other arts residencies.

Maine Arts Commission 
Offers matching grants of up to $8000 for residencies and other education programs.

Maryland State Arts Council 
Offering a literary artist-in-residence program.

Minnesota State Arts Board 
Offers the Arts in Education School Support grant program, a matching grant for artist residencies.

Minnesota: Community Programs in the Arts 
Minnesota's largest residency program.

Montana Arts Council 
Will provide up to two-thirds compensation for a Literary Arts residency.

Nebraska Arts Council 
Offers over $2000 through its Artists in Schools/Communities Residency Sponsor Grants.

Nevada Arts Council 
Offers an Artist in Residence (AIR) program for Literature.

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts

New Jersey State Council on the Arts 
Short-term residencies concentrate on prose, poetry, and playwriting with Council funds providing the artist's fee.

New York State Council on the Arts
Through its Arts in Education program, NYSCA offers support for partnerships between literary organizations and schools so that working poets can teach in the classroom.

Teachers & Writers Collaborative 
Creator and pioneer of the Writers in the Classroom model, T&W is available to New York teachers.

North Dakota Council on the Arts 
Offers grants for up to 50% of a writer's residency fee.

Ohio Arts Council 
Offering residencies in all of the arts.

Oklahoma Arts Council 
Offering financial assistance for schools desiring an artist in residence.

Oregon Arts Commission 
Assists in facilitating artist residencies by creating regional partnerships.

Oregon Writers in the Schools Program 
Offering up to twelve residencies to Portland area schools.

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts 
Offers residency grants of up to 50% of artist's residency fee.

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts 
RISCA's current education program offers a Request for Proposals that will respond to artist residencies.

South Carolina Arts Commission 
Offers "Residency-Plus" grants, providing for required artist resident labs, as well as additional class time, to be directed by the teacher.

South Dakota Arts Council 
Offering an artist-in-residence program.

Tennessee Arts Commission 
Offering grants for artist residencies, teacher training and special projects.

Texas Writers in the Schools Program 
A Texas-based program bringing writers to primarily at-risk, urban schools, but offering their services and various programs to most interested teachers.

Virginia Commission for the Arts 
Provides financial assistance to teachers seeking artist residencies.

Washington State Arts Commission 
Offers residency grants to bring writers and artists into the classroom.

Seattle Arts & Lectures WITS Program 
Seattle Arts & Lectures offers long-term and day-long residencies.

West Virginia Commission on the Arts 
Email the commission directly for a copy of the Arts in Education Artist Directory and Program Guide necessary to apply for up to 50% in financial assistance for an artist residency.

Wyoming Arts Council 
Offers three major arts in education grants: AIE Shortform, AIE Project, and Art is Essential. Artist residencies can be funded using these grants.


Education Technology

Voice of the Shuttle: Teaching Resources 
An extensive list of teaching resources on the web listed by topic and including Literature. Also contains a special list of technology-related links.


Conferences, Workshops & Festivals

The Frost Place 
The Frost Place is host to a series of festivals and conferences. The website provides details for each of these events, including "The Conference on Poetry and Teaching." The website also provides particulars on visiting the Frost House Museum (Frost's farm) in New Hampshire.

Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival 
Information on the biennial Dodge Poetry Festival held in New Jersey. Information can also be found on the Dodge Poetry Program, geared towards helping high school teachers bring poetry to the classroom.

The Institute for Writing and Thinking 
Summer one-day and weekend workshops for development in writing in all subjects held on the Bard College campus in upstate New York.

Key West Literary Seminar 
The Seminar strives to preserve literary heritage by promoting dialogue among writers, scholars, and readers at its annual January seminar and through readings, writing workshops and literary walking tours throughout the year.   

The National Council of Teachers of English 
NCTE's convention page, housing information on upcoming seasonal and annual conventions.


Professional Development

Bread Loaf School of English 
Four summer degree and nondegree graduate programs in English, held in four different locations around the country and abroad. These programs are attended primarily by middle and high school teachers of English.

The Frost Place
The Frost Place is host to a series of festivals and conferences. The website provides details for each of these events, including "The Conference on Poetry and Teaching." The website also provides particulars on visiting the Frost House museum (Frost's farm) in New Hampshire.

The Institute for Writing and Thinking
Summer one-day and weekend workshops for development in writing in all subjects held on the Bard College campus in upstate New York. 

National Council of Teachers of English
The NTCE site offers responses to current education topics, teaching ideas, email lists, suggested publications and books (published by NCTE), and event notices.