The Fiction of Relationships or I love to MOOC…

Alphabet Dances is mostly about poetry but all creative writing is important to me. I love written words and Coursera have a new MOOC – The Fiction of Relationships – led by Arnold Weinstein – which is all about narrative fiction.

My work focuses on online learning. This includes open educational resources and courses. I like to MOOC. It’s a form of professional development and this MOOC ticks all the boxes. I get the the mechanics of MOOCing as well as the books and discussions. The chances of completing the assessments and gaining credit are low but it’s the participation which counts so I think I will at least begin. The Fiction of Relationships starts 3rd June for 12 weeks and registration is here where the course overview is also available.   The downside is not all the texts are online, which seems a little incongruous, although you can dip in and out of a MOOC to suit your own interests – so there’s nothing to stop you focusing on those books which are already on Project Gutenberg  Free educational opportunities are one of the finest consequences of the world wide web. Go sign up for a MOOC today– you won’t regret it!

Poetry Comps and a MOOC

Jackie Kay is judging the Larkin and East Riding Poetry Prize, to be awarded at the Bridlington Poetry Festival 14-16 June at Sewerby Hall in Bridlington Competition closing date 15th April, £3 entry fee per poem. Further details here

Peter and Ann Sampson are judging the Mclellan poetry competition awarded through the Isle of Arran Theatre and Arts Trust as part of the annual McLellan Festival. Closing date 30th June.  £5 per poem and £4 each for three or more poems. Further details here

The free online course on Modern & Contemporary American Poetry offered by the University of Pennsylvania is running for a second time in September 2013. Starting with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, the course follows American poetry to the present day.  Further details at

Free online course on modern and contemporary American poetry

Open educational resources and course take advantage of the internet to offer free learning opportunities. One of the leading platforms is the US based Coursera at and I’ve been looking at its Modern and Comtemporary American Poetry or MoPo as it calls itself. The course has just completed a ten week teaching schedule but the content will remain online for the rest of the academic year and is well worth visiting.

Coursera Modern American Poetry course

Starting with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman the syllabus traces the development of poetic modernism including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein before moving onto Anti Modernism, Formalism, the Beat Poets of the 1940’s and 50’s and onto the New York School and Language Poetry before finishing with Conceptualism. Materials include links to all the relevant texts and videos of round table discussions between the tutor Al Filreis and his students at the University of Pennsylvania. There are communication forums, recordings of live webcasts and an interesting peer review assessment technique. This is a brilliant introduction to 150 years of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry and its free. What’s not to like!