How long has it been since you have studied poetry in your homeschool? I have to admit that, for us, it has been AWHILE. So when we were offered Progeny Press‘ Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements – E-Guide to review, I thought that it would be a great moment to reintroduce this form of literature to our homeschool. I’m happy to say that my initial thoughts were exactly right; what a pleasure this has been!
What is Progeny Press’ Introduction to Poetry?
Progeny Press creates literature guides (in digital, printed and CD formats) that are designed to help children love, understand, and critically think about literature. The Christian worldview which defines and informs their publications can be accessed via their About Us page. In addition, the literature guides are written using the highest scholarship and standards of excellence, which are always wonderful to find in curricula. Their literature guides cover a multitude of genres, as well as eras. (The books that the guides teach are also available in the Progeny Press bookstore.)
Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements – E-Guide is a 72-page, interactive digital literature guide (including a separate teachers guide). Using more than 40 poems written by both American and international poets, the e-guide teaches a thorough introduction to poetry. It’s suitable for students in grades 9-12. In this curriculum, the student is first introduced to the three main types of poetry: lyric, narrative, and dramatic.
Next, the various elements of poetry are covered:
- lines, words, and sound
- imagery and analogy
And third, various forms of poetry are taught:
- Blank verse
- and five other forms, as well
Of course, the most efficient way to teach poetry is with poetry. So, Progeny Press offers a set of three very inexpensive poetry books (sold separately on their website) which contain all the poems for this course. For the sake of simplicity, I purchased these as an addition to the course.
Through this course, your student will be introduced to familiar poets Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Longfellow, Walt Whitman, John Milton and others. He’ll also meet some you might be unfamiliar with, including Christopher Marlowe, William Carlos Williams, Edward Arlington Robinson, and more.
Because the Introduction to Poetry is an interactive e-guide, the student is able to work through the written part of the lesson on his own. The e-guide allows the user to enter his answers into the guide itself, and then save them on the computer (or print them for a notebook). The separate Teachers’ Guide contains all the answers to these questions, with extra discussion on many of them.
Normally, we used this course as an addition to our language arts and literature program, about three times per week. The course is laid out in a very logical manner, with each successive lesson building on what the student has learned before. So we began with Jackson learning first about the forms of poetry (lyric, narrative, and dramatic), and then moved on to the different elements of poetry (lines, words, sound, meter, etc.).
Because poetry is an auditory as well as a visual experience (not to mention, an emotional one), we always began with reading the poem (or poems) aloud. Then, Jackson would read it to himself, marking any unfamiliar vocabulary words. At this point, he would proceed to the lesson, which often compared two different poems, or led him into deciphering what the poet might have meant through a number of questions. Often, actual truth and reality were contrasted with the poet’s words or feelings. And worldview was strengthened, as Jackson compared lines in the poems with verses of Scripture.
Personally, I adored this course. I have come late to the love of poetry; it’s only been in recent years that I have enjoyed spending the time uncovering the meanings that poets have set behind the beautiful words of their poems. I liked introducing Jackson to this form of literature, and I loved the challenges it put before him in drawing out poetry’s nuances and significance.
We also truly enjoyed reading the poems aloud. Reading aloud is nothing new to us; we often do read-alouds in both our school time and at night before bed, as a family. But reading poetry aloud really is different from reading its counterpart, prose, isn’t it? When we read poems out loud together it almost seems like the verbal equivalent of classical music. It is beautiful and lovely to the ears, but one doesn’t necessarily understand the composer’s (or poet’s) meaning right away. Rather, both music and poetry are enhanced when the hearer can ponder and think on them.
And what about the poems themselves, that we studied? I have to admit that we loved some (“She Walks in Beauty,” “The Road Not Taken,” ) while others were startling in their meaning (“Richard Cory”), or even unsettling (“Annabel Lee”) It was also exciting to read some poetry and discover where some famous expressions came from, like “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may;” or “Home is the sailor, home from the sea…” What a fantastic education this course provides for the student!
Here’s what my son Jackson had to say:
“The course introduced me to some good poems and the interactive PDF was very nice to work with. It is good for most age groups and overall is a good course.”
Personally, I would say that while my son recommends it for many age groups, I’d reserve it for high schoolers in general. He is an eighth grader and has done well with it, but I believe that some of the poetry will be better appreciated, and apprehended, by those in grades 9-12. However, I can recommend it highly for those students. I also do love the worldview and Biblical references included in Introduction to Poetry.
You may purchase Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements – E-Guide from Progeny Press for $21.99. (I also recommend you purchase the Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements – Book Bundle, a bargain at $8.50 for all three books to use with the E-Guide.) They will be a useful and beautiful addition to your high school English courses!
Visit Progeny Press at their social media sites, to learn more about this excellent company and their curricula: