This course invites the student to notice and assess a universal poetic impulse, that is, a thoroughly human tendency to create artistic verbal patterns in sound and sense. We challenge the notion that poetry exists mostly in literary tomes, instead pursuing a poetic impulse running through the verbal expressions of the world's peoples. Students initially develop a tool-kit for identifying and describing poetic resources in everyday life. We turn this lens onto our own verbal environments to explore poetic elements in the stories and jests of "ordinary" conversation. Then we embark on a tour of oral poetry traditions in the Andes of South America, in West Africa, and in greater Mexico (including Mexican-Americans). Our goal is to recognize and appreciate the techniques, uses, and functions of the poetic impulse in the lives of individuals and communities.