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The Art of Poetry Set Review by Kirsten West

includes both books and DVD set
Christine Perrin, MFA with Danielle SahmSurra
Classical Academic Press

The Art of Poetry Set is a great way to expose your homeschooled high school student to a wide range of poets and styles. If you combine The Art of Poetry text with The Art of Poetry Teacher’s Edition and The Art of Poetry DVD Set, you will have all the tools you need to teach a full unit of high school poetry even if it isn’t your strongest subject.

This curriculum is written from a Christian perspective. The poetry covered in this set is vast with over 100 poems. You will read poems by William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, Robert Frost, Langston Huges, Christina Rossetti, William Blake, Hilda Doolittle, Robert Burns, Walt Whitman, Lewis Carroll, Robert Hayden, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dante Allghieri, John Keats, William Shakespeare, Anne Askew, and many many more.

A note for parents: some of the poems in the anthology may be better suited to older children because they cover mature situations; and in some instances, I disagreed with the analysis offered by the author. One poem, World, by Annie Kantar (Ben Hillel), is disturbing in its imagery of her unborn twins. The author described it as a poem expressing love and humor, but my son and I detected a strong sense of the sinister in the poem. Another of the poems in the text is by Persey B. Shelly who was an atheist who practiced “free love” with girls, and espoused socialism. However, if you preview the text and the selection of poems before you study them with your children, you can select those you wish to cover and leave others out.

The authors begin by breaking apart and focusing on the basic elements of poetry with a focus of one element per chapter. After covering images, metaphor, symbols, words, sound, rhythm, shape, and tone, the curriculum takes a tour through the historical genres of Poetry. The course ends with a section that will guide your child through options he can use to expand upon his interests in modern day applications.

Each chapter includes a well-developed description of the topic, followed by an anthology of poems for you and your child to read and explore. Each poem in the anthology is followed by a guided analysis which reinforces the concepts under study in that chapter. The author guides you and your child, in a conversational tone through the process of exploring each poem by asking questions and giving background information that your child and you may not know.

The complete set (teacher, student and DVD set), gives you full support as a parent and enables you to teach a course on poetry to your child at home. The DVDs in the set include more than fifteen hours of Christine Perrin, the author, teaching four 8th graders. You can watch it with your child and pause as you go in order to chat with your own child about his thoughts and ideas. Or you can watch the lessons in the DVD before working through the poetry lessons alone with your child. Either way you use it, it is very helpful.

While the texts and DVDs are not geared exclusively towards homeschoolers, the material is readily adaptable to homeschooling one child, or even a group in a co-op setting.

We began by using all the material together, but I ended up watching the DVD series myself and using the information to guide the sessions with my son as we worked through the curriculum. I discovered that for my son, the best way to work through the curriculum was to read the text, analysis and poems together aloud. In fact, my son ended up guiding the discussion and reading most of the text aloud to me, which was a fantastic way for him to practice reading aloud and stimulated a lot of conversation and Socratic discussion. If your child learns best by writing, there are plenty of opportunities including questions that can be used as writing exercises after every poem in the curriculum, as well as additional activities at the end of each chapter.

This set includes the DVD set, the Art of Poetry Student Edition, and the Teachers Edition. The combined price of this set is $109.95, but each of the items are also available as separate items.

-Product review by Kirsten West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2018