Learning the Rules to Break the Rules in Poetry


Discover the pleasures--and challenges--of writing poetry in traditional forms in this introductory course.


What you can learn.

  • Explore the conventions of traditional formal poetry, from rhyme schemes to meter and beyond
  • Focus on poetry as an aural art form in which the sound of the words matters as much as the meaning
  • Get insight into how to break formal rules once you've learned them to further innovate your writing
  • Discover the unique opportunities writing in form can offer, as well as the way it improves your poetry craft

About this course:

Before modern times, plays, stories, ballads, epics, parables, etc. began as oral tradition and were shared using the rhymes, rhythms, and patterns we now recognize as poetry. And though formal poetry can feel intimidating or restricting, at one point, it was every day. In this workshop, writers of all levels will be reacquainted with the sounds of poetry and learn the rules of fixed forms--sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, and pantoum--not to master them, but to break them. From the pieces we may just find the best words, sounds, and shapes for containing some big emotions.
writing and journalism

Explore the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

Learn from successful writers. Finish a novel. Complete a screenplay. Publish poetry. Write with purpose and impact.

Contact Us

Speak to a student advisor. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm.
Ready to start
your future?
By signing up, you agree to UCLA Extension’s Privacy Policy.

vector icon of building

Corporate Education

Learn how we can help your organization meet its professional development goals and corporate training needs.

Learn More

vector icon of building

Donate to UCLA Extension

Support our many efforts to reach communities in need.

Innovation Programs

Student Scholarships

Coding Boot Camp

Lifelong Learning