In 2012, people across the world, including the Greater Washington, DC area, signed up for the Massive Open Online Course, "Modern and Contemporary American Poetry," sponsored by Coursera and hosted by the University of Pennsylvania and Kelly Writer's House. The MOOC, affectionately called ModPo and developed by U Penn professor Al Filreis, went live in September 2012.
Two meet-up groups formed early on. One group met at a residence in Foggy Bottom and another, already on-going from a previous Cousera MOOC in science fiction, met at Politics and Prose Bookstore. Within a few weeks, the two groups consolidated to form one group, which met weekly at Politics and Prose and conducted close readings of the week's assigned poems.
With the conclusion of ModPo’s 10-week run in November, the assembled group decided to stay in touch and as before discuss other MOOC courses the members were taking. Over the course of the following year (2013), the group's members attended the first George Washington University A Splendid Wake program, Emily Dickinson's Birthday Reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library, poetry readings at the Library of Congress, and field trips to the National Art Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Philips, and the Walters Museum in Baltimore, in addition to trips to Kelly Writers' House in Philadelphia for live ModPo webcasts.
After the 2013 version of the course ended in November, a small group formed itself to focus strictly on poetry. That group named itself DC Poetica. DC Poetica, in monthly meetings, has concentrated on international poets such as Pablo Neruda, Fernando Pessoa, Ranier Maria Rilke, and Sappho. The group covers two works by one poet each month. Other MOOC students continue to meet weekly at Politics and Prose for face-to-face MOOC discussions.
Meet DC ModPo members in the ModPo MOOC, at [https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry]
Written by Ray Maxwell
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