These poems were all read and discussed in a 100-level online poetry class at Clackamas Community College (near Portland, Oregon, USA) during the spring of 2017. The poems and themes were chosen almost entirely by students, with advice and encouragement from me. The students also created a selective list of interesting poetic terms.
As I teach future sections of Intro to Poetry, my students and I will continue to add to the book. At this stage, though, it is simply a starting place, to begin filling the need for an OER poetry anthology. Some sections, such as Chapter 1, “Poems about Spring and Renewal,” are long and full of poems, while others have only a couple. I invite future users to contact me with new poems, themes, and other content, so that eventually the book might approach a more complete and representative survey. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment on the text itself.
Regarding the subject of representation, I fear there is a bit of a bias towards canonical white male British poets. Even though students chose the poems, I was often in the position of suggesting titles for them on subjects they were interested in, and that is my background. This is something my students and I will address in future editions, and we would love to have help from other users.
Despite being unfinished, this book could still be used as a course text in its current state if an instructor were willing to have students continue the process and find more poems. Judging from my experience with this group of students, it is a very enjoyable and motivating thing for new readers of poetry to do.
Since the themes were based on what my students were interested in, they include some unconventional topics, and some poets and types of poetry not normally included in traditional anthologies. I am very pleased with how this worked out, and I see lots of room in the future for more of these quirky topics.
Some themes we covered in the class did not lend themselves to an OER. For example, the class focused for one week on Emily Dickinson, inspired by the Spring 2017 release of the film A Quiet Passion. But, as far as I can tell, her texts are mostly copyrighted, so I decided not to include a Dickinson section.
The texts themselves are mostly drawn from Poets.org and Poetry Foundation, both of which are very scrupulous about identifying public-domain vs. copyrighted works. I have included full texts only for those poems that I was confident were in the public domain. In addition, some chapters have links to poems and songs that are not in the public domain.
The photo on the cover is from Wikipedia’s page on poet Nikky Finney and shows her reading at Annikki Poetry Festival in Tampere, Finland on June 9, 2012.
I wish to thank my students for their passion and curiosity. We hope you enjoy the book.