Intro to Poetry


For most people, the first thing they notice about poetry is related to form—how the poem looks on a page. Are the lines long or short? Are they lines all about the same length or do they vary? Are there many stanzas? Short or long? A poem begins to communicate something by its appearance before we even read it, and that form connects to the content. The visual and the verbal are meant to work together. not unlike comic books or videos.

For this assignment, you will select a poem and compose a script based on that poem for either a comic book (similar to Julian Peters’ work) or a short video (like a music video for poetry). Comics scripts are in some ways similar to play or movie scripts, including both dialogue and instructions. But instead of staging directions, comics scripts offer instructions regarding how pages should be laid out, how each panel should be arranged, coloring, and other artistic directions. A video script will similarly give instructions for visual details, including camera angles, set design, character appearance, stage directions, and dialogue.

Your script will use visual representation to interpret the form and content of the poem. It should include the text of the poem in some way (as dialogue, as narration, or some other way).

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Choose a poem that you value. You are encouraged to use a poem that we study in class, but you may also use a poem that isn’t assigned (pending my approval). The important thing is that it contains ideas and language you are interested in, imagery you can visualize, and a structure you can draw upon.
  2. Develop a plan for how you’re going to adapt your poem. What is the poem about? What about the poem do you hope to communicate with your audience? What formal details can you use to inspire the visual design? What language details can inform your design? What elements from the poem are most important to communicate? How will you incorporate the text into the visual experience?
  3. Write your script. Imagine that you are going to hand it to an artist to draw or a filmmaker to produce. What details does would they need to know bring your vision to life? For a comic book, you should include the layout for each page as well as the arrangement of each panel. For a video script, you should include directions for each shot, including how long each shot will last and how you will transition between shots. Also include what kind of color scheme you want (bright colors? bold colors? subtle colors? no colors?), keeping in mind that color can have a profound impact. You may use any formatting of your choice for your script.
  4. Remember to think critically while creating your script. What about the poem do you want to communicate? How can you use visual elements to appeal to your audience? Be strategic about the choices you make.
  5. Your script should give instructions for a 3 page comic (minimum), or a 3 minute (minimum) video. The length of the script will vary from person to person.
  6. Finally, you will write a short (1-2 page) reflection in which you think through the choices you made in the development of your script.
  7. For extra credit, you may produce a video (or storyboard) or pages based on your script by either drawing it yourself, using software, or getting help from a talented friend. The production doesn’t have to be a perfect, finished product, but should clearly reflect the instructions you wrote in your script.
  8. Have fun!

Learning Objectives:

  • understanding the relationship between form and content in poetry
  • enhance your critical reading skills as you consider to produce your poem as a visual experience
  • engage critical thinking skills creatively


As I grade this assignment, I will focus on these questions:

  • Does the student develop clear instructions that include both verbal and visual elements?
  • Does the script give sufficient instructions for the how the pages should be drawn or how the scenes should be shot?
  • Does the script capture the tone of the poem?
  • Does it reflect the form while also communicating the content?
  • Does the script indicate the author’s understanding of how poetic form relates to content?

I expect to be able to answer these questions based on your script; however, my evaluation will also draw on your reflection. That means you will have an opportunity to explain your choices and demonstrate your mastery of learning objectives, so craft your reflection carefully. I will also be looking for writing that is stylistically interesting and relatively free of errors.

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