Poetry influences life. Emotions, thoughts, actions can all originate from the reading of a good poem. Christine Perrin understands this, and in The Art of Poetry she guides students through analysis and explication of poetry to help them get more from it than a mere cursory reading will provide.
Perrin has degrees in math and law—not a typical resume for a teacher of poetry. Despite her unusual credentials, she evidences deep love and understanding of the subject, writing in a style many students will find inspiring and helpful.
How Does This Work?
This is a very adaptable course. While it is best suited for high school students it can be implemented for middle school and even older elementary students. The pace is up to you—you can cram the entire text into a single month, devote two months to each lesson, or spread the work over more than one year. Given the amount of information and quality of presentation we recommend students complete the text in a year.
The only book you need is the student text, accompanied by a CD with readings of several of the poems covered. A teacher's manual is also available, containing the full student text as well as answers to all questions and fullexplications of seventy-five of the book's poems. While many individual poems in the text are analyzed, the supplementary information in the teacher's manual provides tangible examples that can help a student know better how to complete analysis on their own.
Perrin begins with a discussion of image, the metaphorical language of poetry. From there she examines form, sound, tone, shape and the lives and works of notable poets. In the back are several poet biographies to supplement lessons.
A variety of exercises for each lesson help cement ideas in students' minds. Assignments range from essay questions to line-by-line analysis to writing metaphors and similes. Most of the exercises come immediately after the poems themselves, though there are others at the end of each section, along with a list of vocabulary words. 125 poems included allow this text to double as a brief anthology.
Our Honest Opinion:
This is the best single-volume poetry course we've seen. It balances technical evaluation with genuine love of poetry, and only the coldest-hearted student will be bored or uninterested. For first-time students of poetry, as well as for those who've investigated it before, this is an excellent choice.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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