Whether classic or contemporary, free verse or structured, all poetry has the power to change students’ lives. To help make poetry part of your English language arts curriculum this year, we created this guide to some of our favorite free poetry materials from around the web! From lesson plans and videos to poet biographies and digital libraries, these free online teaching resources from trusted organizations can be adapted for both in-school and distance learning.

The Poetry Foundation

Established in 2003, the Poetry Foundation is a literary organization dedicated to promoting poetry as an integral part of modern culture. Part of that promotion includes publishing Poetry magazine, organizing events such as Poetry Out Loud, and holding exhibitions at its headquarters. The Poetry Foundation also hosts thousands of poems on its website that are free for all to access.

At the start of the pandemic, the Poetry Foundation compiled a list of online poetry resources that teachers of all levels, from elementary school to college, could use during distance learning. These resources are sorted by age ranges and include articles for teachers, video collections, poet biographies, and close readings of teachable poems.

The Library of Congress

What better place to study poetry than at the Library of Congress? Many teaching materials drawn from primary sources can be found at the Library’s poetry portal, including audio recordings, original manuscripts, and journals. A dedicated Teachers Page hosts poetry lesson plans, presentations, and themed primary source collections.

Periodically, the Library of Congress posts new poetry activities and teaching tips at its blog, From the Catbird Seat. Recently, educator Rebecca Newland shared several activities for writing and reading poetry that can be easily adapted for the digital classroom.

The Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is one of the oldest poetry organizations in the United States. Founded in 1934 by Marie Bullock, the Academy was created to help support poets at all stages of their careers and to promote contemporary poetry. At present, the Academy continues this mission through grants and awards, speaking events, fellowship programs, and its website, Poets.org.

Like The Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets also boasts a free collection of poetry on its website. At the Poets.org teachers’ portal, you’ll find a library of poetry lesson plans based on heritage months, history, social justice issues, seasons, and other themes.

For weekly poetry fun, check out the Academy’s Teach This Poem series for grades K-12. Signing up for the program is free and requires only an email address. Every week, you’ll receive an email containing a school-appropriate poem alongside interdisciplinary primary sources and critical reading activities.

Teach Living Poets

If you’re interested in exploring contemporary poetry with your students, head to TeachLivingPoets.com. Created by Melissa Alter Smith, the #TeachLivingPoets movement is dedicated to complicating the canon, empowering students through poetry, and celebrating the arts in schools.

At TeachLivingPoets.com, you’ll find a number of free resources for teaching poetry in the classroom, including spotlight pieces on contemporary poets, video messages by living poets, and lesson plans shared by fellow educators. You can also join the conversation and trade ideas with fellow ELA teachers using the #TeachLivingPoets hashtag on Twitter.

To help with distance and hybrid learning, Smith recently added a Hyperdoc poetry lessons portal to the site. These interactive digital lessons ask students to examine specific poems by watching related videos, making annotations, and completing writing prompts.

Free Poetry Resources at the English Teacher’s Free Library

We have plenty of free poetry resources available at the English Teacher’s Free Library, including our new Discovering Poetry poster and worksheet pairs! Browse our collection of lesson plans and posters to find the best materials to match your students’ interests.

Discovering Poetry Posters and Worksheets

“In the desert” by Stephen Crane
Introduce your students to the poetry of Stephen Crane with this poster and worksheet pairing.
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“Oread” by H. D.
Have your students dissect H. D.’s poem “Oread” with this free poster and worksheet set.
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“Fog” by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg’s whimsical free verse poem comes to life in this poster and worksheet set.
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Poetry Lesson Plans

The Poetry of Bob Dylan Free Lesson Plan
Use this lesson plan to help your students discuss the primary ideas in the Nobel Prize winner's lyrics.
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"Because I could not stop for Death" Free Lesson Plan
Celebrate National Poetry Month with this free lesson plan for Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death."
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Rhyme and Repetition in Poe's "Annabel Lee" Free Lesson Plan
Help your students identify rhyme patterns and discuss the effects of repetition in "Annabel Lee."
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Examining Poe's Theory of Unity of Effect in "The Raven" Free Lesson Plan
Using an audio reading of "The Raven," have your students take a closer look at meter, rhyme, and imagery in poetry.
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Introducing Symbols: "The Beach" Free Lesson Plan
Learning (and teaching!) symbolism can be fun; this lesson is proof.
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Teaching Shakespeare: "Sonnet 73" Free Lesson Plan
Teach your students how to analyze poetic structure and determine its relationship to meaning.
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Poetry Posters

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130” Poster
Understanding the elements of Shakespearean sonnets is easy with this visual resource.
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“Fire and Ice” Poster
Use this free poster to display Robert Frost’s aphoristic poem and spark thoughtful discussions in your classroom.
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“The Road Not Taken” Poster
Encourage your students to analyze the ambiguous and thought-provoking work of Robert Frost with this free poster.
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“The Lamb” Poster
Make William Blake’s compelling and profound poem an essential part of your poetry unit with this free poster!
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“The Tyger” Poster
William Blake’s ability to craft his poem with subtle complexities and burning curiosity shines through this free poster.
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“Because I could not stop for Death” Poster
Capture Emily Dickinson’s mysterious and unconventional approach to death with this free poster.
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“Dover Beach” Poster
Introduce your students to the power of evocative language with this free poster showcasing “Dover Beach.”
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“Should the Wide World Roll Away” Poster
Invite your students to dive further into the limitless meanings behind Stephen Crane’s poem with this free poster.
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“Spring Offensive” Poster
Delve into an epic poem that pits life, death, mayhem, and serenity against each other with this free poster.
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“The Artist” Poster
Have your students analyze Oscar Wilde’s perspective on suffering and creation with this free poster.
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How are you using poetry as part of your English language arts curriculum this year? Let us know in the comments!