Among the first recorded genres of poetry is the idyll, a celebration of the mundane that shuns the heroism of Homeric epics. Nymphs, shepherds, and rolling hills long endured in the image of western poetry. While there may not be a formal generic equivalent to the pastoral, urban poetry, a celebration and examination of life in the city, likewise goes back to antiquity. Unfortunately, for some readers, the natural world seems a “superior” and more fitting poetic subject than the urban world. The Romantics, whose influence still looms large in English Language Arts curricula, decried the profane world of the city where one might “mark in every face I meet/ Marks of weakness, marks of woe.1” The Romantics might have disdained urban life, but there is an equally strong tradition in English language poetry of celebration of the built world. William Blake decried the smoke and soot of industry, while Carl Sandburg declared that Chicagoans were “proud to be Hog/ Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.2” Tupac Shakur saw the beauty and potential found in the city, declaring “long live the rose that grew from concrete / when no one else ever cared.3” In New Haven itself, Wallace Stevens walked the “metaphysical streets of the physical town.4” One of the great projects of poetry is to express the world we experience every day through language. Poets have imbued meaning into the physical world through language, with Emma Lazarus naming the Statue of Liberty as the “Mother of Exiles.5” Urbanization gave rise to the growth of printing and the rapidly expanding dissemination of poetry into the hands of increasingly literate populations. In this unit of study, students will examine how poets from William Blake to Tupac have understood and interpreted the city, its buildings, industry, citizens, culture, beauty, and ugliness. The two questions which will define the unit are: “What is the poetic voice, and how is that expressed through sound?” and “How do we interpret the physical sights, sounds, and people of life in the city through language, visual arts, and performance?” In the process of finding the poetic voice in shared readings, students will craft their own poems centered on their own lives and experiences in the city.