A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

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Level: College
Media Included:
  • Print (book or chapbook)
  • SpicyNodes (rendering of at least two poems in SpicyNodes, which can be downloaded onto websites, iPhones, and iPods)
  • Web (online poetry sites; online chapbooks)
  • MP3 (recordings of all or part of collection in poet’s spoken word)
  • MySpace, personal blog, or home website (to post materials)
  • YouTube (video of at least one poetry reading)
Time for Activity: One full semester
Materials Needed:
  • Access to YouTube and computer tools to create a homemade video.
  • A MySpace page, webpage, blog or space on a friend’s webpage.
  • Materials to craft a chapbook – printer, heavy paper, collating and binding materials – or a service center, such as FedEx/Kinko’s, that can provide these services.


This term project is suitable for underclassmen and Master’s degree candidates because it brings together a variety of poetic forms, requires the writing of original poetry, and presents the many ways poetry is conveyed and distributed in the 21st century. The object is to take a thematic body of work, carefully prepared and chosen, and use today’s technological advantages to disseminate it.

Action Steps:

  1. Choose three to five forms featured in "Poetry through the Ages," plus "Spicy Nodes", and study each of the forms. Develop a working knowledge of how to write each form, and how the rhythm, structure, and rhyme and cross-rhyme schemes can work with subjects that inflame, impassion, and inspire you.
  2. Write and polish a collection of at least 25 poems, including at least one poem in each of the "Poetry through the Ages" forms you selected.
  3. Write two SpicyNodes poems, making sure to create enough layers to give your readers the opportunity to study the connections and relationships you form and to interact with your poem.
  4. Arrange your poetry collection into an order in which you would publish it.
  5. Design a book cover that would jump off the shelves. Make sure your title carries more than one potential meaning (double-entendre) and conveys the energy of the collection.
  6. Add a Table of Contents, Dedication/Acknowledgments, and other title pages.
  7. Use poetry.com, Fed Ex/Kinko’s, or another ready source to publish a chapbook.
  8. Take the poems from your chapbook and sort them into small "packages." Submit these poem packages to five print magazines and five online poetry publishers. Be sure your themes, subjects, and forms are relevant to the editorial content of these publications.
  9. Write brief cover letters, identifying yourself, giving your return address, and stating that the poems are as-yet-unpublished, but part of a forthcoming chapbook entitled, (NAME YOUR TITLE)
  10. Find a friend who knows how to record and produce MP3 files from a home computer (maybe you can do this yourself). Set up two or three recording sessions. Record at least five poems in all, but read several takes so you can choose the best. Download these MP3 files onto your web site, blog, or MySpace page.
  11. If you have ready access to Final Cut Pro or other video editing technology, create a YouTube video that shows you reading one of your poems in a setting best suited to that poem. Use plenty of eye contact, and show the emotion you felt when you wrote the poem. Identify yourself at the beginning, and tell the story behind the poem at the end. If you so desire, read three or four poems in the same YouTube file.
  12. Once you’ve finished feeding your media outlets, send out group e-mails to friends, family, fellow poets and writers, teachers, local media, local bookselling outlets, fellow bloggers, and MySpace and YouTube pals, announcing the launch of your multimedia poetry presentation. Make the MP3, SpicyNodes and YouTube files available on a MySpace page, blog, or web site. Save the chapbook as a PDF file and include it. (Also present your work to this Web Exhibit!)
  13. Read the chapbook in a group setting, such as a coffeehouse, bookstore, college poetry series reading, or another public forum.
  14. Write a paper on the entire experience, and review the steps you took to bring it to fruition. Also include a background piece that describes your love of poetry and why you chose to write in the specific forms.