4 Modern-Day Poetry Movements for Your Students

Poetry Movements for Your Students - Writing with Design

A great deal of poetry that students are exposed to tends to be before the 1900s. From Shakespeare to William Blake, these movements have many amazing poets, as well as intellectual ideas behind them.

Still, within the 20th and 21st Centuries, our world was flooded with changes as a result of innovation in communication, travel, and more. Why not introduce your students to a few poetry movements that’s a little closer in time and context?

Especially as poetry became more experimental in style and subject, it also took on the potential to really capture the attention of young people. Now, some of the poets in these movements are probably best for more mature students, even seniors, due to controversial themes. But each one is unique in its approach and mission.

Confessional Poetry

Starting in the 1950s, Confessional poetry focuses on the individual expression of a poetic self. At the same time, the movement still valued more traditional forms of craft, even as it explored autobiographical material, personal relationships, and life experiences.

The Beat Movement

From the 50s to the 60s, the beats were the counterculture movement that inspired much of the hippies that would follow them. While the subject matter can be intense at times, many of the works explore politics and social themes in a way that celebrates spontaneous and authentic voices.


Set earlier in the 20th Century, Surreal poetry merged disparate images into one landscape. If you’ve ever studied the paintings of Salvador Dali, you have a window into this international art movement.

Flarf Poetry

Did you say “flarf?” Yes, that’s exactly right, this poetry movement is called “Flarf.” Spawned in the 21st Century, it was a tongue-in-cheek movement that rejected traditional standards of poetry. The central poets were even known to “steal” the results of Internet searches for their poetry. It really is an out-of-this-world poetry movement that isn’t afraid to get silly.

And speaking of poetry… have you entered your students in this month’s writing contest? If not, now’s the time!