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Poetry Corner

How would you describe poetry? Robert Frost once said, “A poem begins in delight and ends in wonder.” Isn’t this the beautiful truth? Poems may be the perfect way to read about and express what is true, good, and beautiful in the world our gracious God has created. After all, poetry is the art of naming our inner and outer experiences by using figurative language in a way that hopefully connects with and often uplifts others. Poetry is truly an art, igniting the senses and thereby our minds. In Sarah Mackenzie’s book Teaching from Rest, she quotes the Greek historian Plutarch, who said, “The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” One might even say that poetry, as it draws upon the senses, ignites the greatest spark and flame within us. With that flame comes understanding, inspiration, and creation, the reflection of which praises God and His creations—the truth, beauty, and goodness surrounding us.

In this yearlong course, students will read, interpret, enjoy, and interact with beautiful poems that will inspire them to write their own poetry and delight in related supplemental projects. This class will offer a comforting, fun, and collaborative space for students to experience the expansive reach of poetry together. During each quarter, students will engage with poetry through the study of the eight poetic elements while reflecting on cardinal and theological virtues. Students will keep writing journals to take notes on poetic terms and devices, along with commonplace books to record poems written, favorite poems, and reflections. These rich, thoughtful, and faithful in-class discussions, along with a Canvas "Poem Cares & Shares" board, fun collaborations, inspiring read-alouds, "open mic" shares, and other special projects, will give students a beautiful, holistic approach to studying poetry and the beauty of God’s world. Just as Frost described, I hope that we begin each class in delight and end it together in wonder.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • Two writing notebooks: writing journal and commonplace book
  • Poems and materials from selected resources will be shared by instructor.
  • No textbooks need to be purchased for this course.

OPTIONAL RESOURCES (to be used by instructor):

  • The Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry by Jay Parini
  • The Art of Poetry by Christine Perrin
  • 30 Poems to Memorize by David Kern
  • The Poetry Dictionary by John Drury
  • Poet’s Choice by Edward Hirsch
  • A Treasury of Poetry for Young People by Frances Bolin et al.

Alison Grace Johansen is teaching Introduction to the Art of Poetry, Formal History of Poetry, Writing & Rhetoric Level 4, and Well-Ordered Language Level 1. She earned her Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pa., and her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Richmond. She worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for over 13 years before pursuing writing and editing in all forms of media. She hopes to help inspire her students to discover the many ways they can use their own words to express themselves with truth, goodness, and beauty. Alison lives in Virginia with her husband and two children. Her dedication to her faith and children influences every part of her life, from teaching Sunday school and writing a children’s picture book, to exploring the beauty of God’s world with her family. If they aren’t birdwatching and enjoying a walk outside, you might find them reading together or playing their favorite instruments: the piano, flute, guitar, ukulele, and drums! You can learn more about Alison in her Scholé Academy video  and blog post about fortitude in poetry.

Quarter 1

Poetry topics:_ _images, metaphor, simile, figurative language, symbols, and personification; nature, animal, and object poems; ekphrastic poetry; free-writing

**_Virtues: _**Faith, hope, kindness, and patience

Selected_ **poems by: **_Maya Angelou, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Langston Hughes, John Keats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, William Wordsworth, William Butler Yeats 

**_Supplemental activities: _**Write ekphrastic, art-inspired poetry; free-write about an image from one of the four seasons, play an association game, make metaphors, write an animal or object poem, draw your own “house of poetry” in light of Emily Dickinson’s I dwell in Possibility poem, memorize a poem with hand motions

Quarter 2

Poetry topics:_ _Biblical verse, carols, hymns, psalms, songs, refrains, words, shape, calligram, acrostic poem, chance poem, memorization

**_Virtues: _**Charity, gratefulness, humility, and joy

Selected poems by:_ _Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Bunyan, E. E. Cummings, John Donne, Robert Frost, George Herbert, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Milton, Clement Clark Moore, Christina Rossetti, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Carlos Williams, William Butler Yeats

**_Supplemental activities: _**Write your own poem about being grateful, write your own Christmas carol with a refrain, set your own poem to music, write a Christmas calligram or acrostic poem, make a calligram in light of George Herbert’s _Easter Wings _poem, memorize and share your favorite hymn or Nativity poem

Quarter 3

Poetry topics:_ _sound, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm, syllables, meter, couplet, scansion, tone, lyric poem, sprung poem, catalexis, echo verse, limerick, riddle, nursery rhyme, didactic poem

**_Virtues: _**Courage, peace, justice, and temperance

**_Selected poems by: _**William Blake, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Jane Brontë, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Keats, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Vaughan, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman 

**_Supplemental activities: _**Play a rhyming game as a class, write a poem in which you play with sound, figure out the syllabic emphasis for each classmate’s name, think about the sounds of your favorite words, convert an open verse poem into one of the meters studied, make an echo verse in light of Herbert’s Heaven poem, memorize one of this quarter’s poems

Quarter 4

Poetry topics:_ _Shape, stanza, form, sonnet, villanelle, sestina, ballad, blank verse, open verse, ode, tanka, renga, haiku, found poem, letter poem, list poem, pastoral poem, response poem, narrative poem

**_Virtues: _**Faith, fortitude, and perseverance

_Selected poems by: Elizabeth Bishop, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Hilda Doolittle, Robert Frost, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A. E. Housman, Langston Hughes, John Keats, John Milton, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, William Wordsworth, William Butler Yeats _

**_Supplemental activities: _**Play with line placement; write a poem of progression with stanzas; write a villanelle, sestina, sonnet, or ballad; discuss how certain poems can have different tones; play “tone of voice” exercises to see how powerful tone is; write a haiku, renga, or tanka; create a calligram; write an acrostic poem; memorize one of this quarter’s poems

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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