I’ve just completed an online course on Modern American Poetry and would recommend it to anyone interested in modern poetry. It is one of Coursera’s many course and must be a model for collaborative learning. Each week there are real-time video discussions/close readings of poems and participants can exchange ideas, ask questions etc. – and its all for free! Just search Coursera/ModPo for details. It starts with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and includes the Imagist poets, Language Poetry and Conceptual Poetry.
Here is my own tribute to Walt Whitman.
I’m weary of grubbing in the gutter.
From now on I am to be a Whitmanesque cosmic daemon.
Now I can see the sound of the sun!
Watch as I hurtle through the rings of Saturn. . .
Close up the chunks of ice are as big as cities. . .
the sun is a dull tangerine in a sooty sky, shrinking. . .
Now I’m swimming with whales the size of trains. . .singing their songs. . .
The underwater forest is my Eden and frontier.
The octopi come out to play. . .but I’m too quick for them:
I’m on dry land, following in the footsteps of a panther,
pressing my bare feet into its paw prints in the damp earth.
Now I sit beside a concert pianist, marvelling at the dexterity
of her fingers and mathematical complexity of cascading sounds. . .
Oh, the cool refreshing wetness of the waterfall
as I stand naked underneath, the sun beating down, beating down. . .
the butterflies dancing between the rainbow rods, dancing, flicking. . .
I am the waterfall and the butterflies and the sun beating down.
I am, was, and will be, all and everything!