Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Art of Poetry: TOS Review

I will be the gladdest thing
  Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
 And not pick one

I will look at cliffs and clouds
 With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass.
 And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
 will mark which must be mine.
 And then start down!
This lovely poem (titled Afternoon On a Hill) was written by Edna St. Vincent Millay. When I read it, I get all giddy. And then reflective.   Though I can’t spend too long in a field of flowers without needing an antihistamine. At least I can appreciate the sentiment.

I’ve always enjoyed the beauty of poetry. But I have a confession. If I read a poem and like the way it sounds I’m a fan. Sounds completely shallow. But that’s the way I roll. Despite my hit and miss approach to poetry analysis, I was thrilled to receive The Art of Poetry to review. I am always impressed with Classical Academic Press and this product was no exception.

What We Received

The Art of Poetry Bundle (124.95)

Included in the Bundle are:

The Art ofPoetry, DVD Set  (89.95)  (I received Chapters 1-2)

Price Alert: Just before I got ready to post this review I received notice that as of April 1st the prices are going down! The New Prices are 99.95 for the complete program, 69.95 for the DVD. 

Written by Christine Perrin, MFA, The Art of Poetry contains a delicious anthology of Classic Poetry. Students are taught the mechanics, devices and general appreciation of poetry.

The course itself is very flexible. The teacher is encouraged to adapt it to the particular needs of the homeschool student. You can study as a month-long in depth course, add it to your weekly schedule or take it just a bit at a time…as a four-year course.  

The curriculum is intended for grades 6-12. There are recommendations for adaption based on the needs/maturity of your students.

The study begins with The Elements of Poetry. It moves onto The Formal History of Poetry. There is an Application section which details how you can keep your own Poetry Notebook, start your own poetry group or Hosting a Reading Series. The Appendixes are filled with Biographies of Poets, a wonderful timeline and some online helps and ideas.

How does it work? Each lesson begins with an introductory poem and discussion. The Student then reads a few selected works that illustrate the concept… reading each poem in detail. There are thoughtful questions and they are encouraged to think beyond just the words written on the page.

 At the end of each chapter there are a variety of activities to reinforce the concept taught. These might be an art project or freewriting activity.

I would suggest you take a look at these sample chapters. They are very well constructed.

The Art of Poetry, the Teacher’s Edition is a wonderful tool. It contains all of the material that is found in the Student Edition, plus suggested answers to the discussion questions. There are quizzes as well, but we haven’t utilized them. Though some might use this course as an independent study The Teacher’s Edition is well worth having.  You can find more samples here!

The DVD was a great model of a classroom setting discussion. For a student who is studying on their own it is a great tool. 

These free MP3 files are wonderful! I have a little story to tell. A few days ago I was volunteering with Josiah at a Nursing Home. One of the employees was talking about a resident who had suffered a stroke. She was a lover of classical literature and poetry. We simply copied the MP3 files from The Art of Poetry website on to a CD. What a nice thing to know that this product is reaching beyond educational purposes. It is providing comfort to those in need. Simply scroll down the page until you see Art of Poetry, Audio Files and download to your computer.

How We Used It 

I am currently teaching a writing course to my nephew Christopher who is High school. He has not had exposure to a formal poetry course. This was a perfect opportunity to review the product.  I have to say that my own formal poetry education in High School was limited, but I took a very enjoyable course in college. I felt like I was visiting all of my old friends all over again.
I worried about Christopher’s interest level. He is more of the video game persuasion, but I was pleasantly surprised. He loved it! In fact, my Mom (Christopher's grandma) spent some time discussing some of the poems with him. It truly was a family activity!
Christopher not only read the poems, but also copied his favorites into a poetry notebook. There was a good bit of discussion. I found the questions that followed to be thought provoking and challenging. Keep in mind that much of poetry is subjective. And it is difficult for some students to provide their own opinion if they aren’t used to being encouraged to.

 We enjoyed some of the suggested activities. Some were a bit more successful than others. This is Christopher's collage activity suggested in the Chapter 1.

Josiah is in 5th grade and I included him in some of our poetry study. And being that the collage project was such a hit, we modified one of the activities in Chapter 2 (Metaphor).

This is Christopher's Collage after we read Hope is a Thing With Feathers.

Here is Josiah's Collage. Very nice.


We also enjoyed the Freewriting activity in Chapter 1. The boys were encouraged to freewrite (for 5 minutes) about images from one of the four seasons. That was a little more challenging for Christopher. His first attempt was interesting.

Summer: hot, swim, play video games, go outside, eat veggies.


This is Josiah's freewriting exercise.

Summer: Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King.

Hmm. It sounds like somebody wasn't paying attention to the assignment.

I then decided that I needed to Model this whole freewriting concept. Here is our combined efforts.

Spring: Easter, Resurrection, Family, Eggs, Easter Dress, bonnet, lettuce, deviled eggs, ham, birds, nest, Robin, Frogs, Pond, New Birth, Green, Squishy Earth (that was my contribution), life, flowers, tulips, yellow, breezes, rain, clouds, umbrella....

Christopher also wrote a very lovely poem.

Chickens Laying Eggs, Peaceful
Trees Blowing in the Wind...


This was such a great course. I am excited to use it with Josiah within the next few years. And to be honest I am tempted to go through it as a personal study. There is something beautiful and thought provoking about the study of poetry. If you are not used to the classical model of study I recommend that you not become overwhelmed the details and shear heaviness of it all. Christine Perrin takes us through it all so gently. Take one poem at a time. Memorize it…spend time talking about it as a family. I know your homeschool (and your family) will be enriched.

 You can read more reviews on The Art of Poetry and other products from others on the TOS Review Crew.


1 comment:

  1. Great review, Rebekah! That is great that the two boys liked it so much. Poetry is one of my weaknesses, and it looks like this curriculum could make it easier. :-)


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