“I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—”

While we think of poetry as the best words in the best order, we sometimes forget how important its poetic or metaphoric thinking is to various subjects such as writing, speaking, business, and science. This course will not only enable teachers to learn how to teach poetry well, but also enrich those teachers wishing to understand and appreciate poetry better themselves.

This brief course features poet and professor Christine Perrin as she describes the major elements of poetry and also discusses them with four upper school students in a seminar format, therefore modeling how to teach poetry to students. In addition to familiarizing us with the forms and elements of poetry, Christine also shows us how to read a poem closely and absorb its beauty.

This course is based on her book The Art of Poetry, and each presentation will follow one of the chapters from this book.


Below is the outline of the course:

Introductory Conversations
Why Study Poetry?
Understanding Poetry through Poems


  • Lesson 1: Image
  • Lesson 2: Metaphor
  • Lesson 3: Symbols
  • Lesson 4: Words
  • Lesson 5: Sound and More Sound
  • Lesson 6: Rhythm
  • Lesson 7: Shape: Stanza and Line
  • Lesson 8: Tone: Putting It All Together
  • Lesson 9: History of Form, Movements, Genres
  • Lesson 10: Verse Forms
  • Lesson 11: Shaping Forms
  • Lesson 12: Emily Dickinson: A Case Study in Form
  • Lesson 13: Open Verse
  • Lesson 14: Walt Whitman: A Case Study in Open Verse
  • Lesson 15: Narrative Poems: An Anthology

Christine Perrin has taught literature and creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Messiah College, Gordon College’s Orvieto Program, through the Pennsylvania Arts Council to students of all ages, and at the local classical school where her husband was headmaster for a decade and where her children attended K12. She consults with classical schools in curriculum development and faculty development in poetry and speaks regularly at the CIRCE Institute and Society for Classical Learning conferences. She is a two-time recipient of the PA Arts Council Artists Fellowship and a Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference Fellowship. Her own work appears in various journals, including The New England Review, Image, TriQuarterly, BlackbirdChristianity and Literature, and The Cresset. The Art of Poetry, a textbook for middle to high school students, was published in 2009 by Classical Academic Press. She is the content editor for Classical Academic Press for the Writing and Rhetoric curriculum series. She attended Johns Hopkins as an undergraduate and the University of Maryland for her MFA.

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