F103 | Dressed Up Poetry: Fun with Forms (LR) 


1:30 pm-3:00 pm


9/25, 10/2, 10/210/9, 10/16, 10/23, 10/30

Six Sessions

This course is offered online via the free, easy-to-use Zoom program.


This course explores the pleasures of formal poetry. If poetic form is a way of dressing up language, we might imagine poems in tuxes and evening gowns, silk scarves and top hats, high heels and wingtips. We will cover traditional forms as they have evolved over time such as the sonnet, villanelle, and sestina, as well as forms that may be less familiar such as the ghazal, pantoum, triolet, and many more. We’ll be as all-inclusive as possible and cover a range of cultures, ethnicities, and historical periods. We may even get to the “paradelle,” a form invented by Billy Collins as a joke but which became quite fashionable. While some attention will be paid to meter and rhythm, the main focus of the class will be specific formal structures. There will be plenty of opportunity for participants to try their hands at constructing some of these forms should they be so moved.

Email handouts will be provided and texts will be recommended.


Suggested Reading:

The Book of Forms, Lewis Turco, UPNE 2000 or The New Book of Forms, Lewis Turco, UPNE 2000.

Rhyme’s Reason: A Guide to English Verse, John Hollander, Yale University Press, 2001

A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women, Annie Finch, WordTech Communications December 2007

Kate Sontag is co-editor of the essay collection After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography. Her poems have been published widely in journals and anthologies. She moved to the Berkshires after retiring from Ripon College, and has received the Severy Teaching Award from Ripon College, Ron Bayes Poetry Prize, and other awards for her poetry. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. 

Class 1



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