Stop. Look! Amazing...
Poetry as the gift of pause.
A poetry appreciation class for adults of all
experience levels. Inner child required.
Click any thumbnail to view a slide show of photos snapped inside the dreamy original class locale, in Eastern Iowa.
Info, Insights, & Invites, Oh My!
~ Or ~
(Come In, Relax...Pay Close Attention to
That Man Behind the Curtain.)
In the spring of 2013, four months after obtaining my B.A. in Creative Writing with honors as a "nontraditional" student (read: traditional nonconformist), two noble friends and patrons of my pen presented me with the opportunity of a lifetime: to leave behind the hard knocks and hustle-bustle of an increasingly taxing job search in the Big Apple and set up wordsmith shop on a tranquil apple orchard to engage in a year of self-directed study and writerly retreat just outside our nation's great City of Literature, Iowa City.
For several reasons, my blind leap west to the heartland proved to be one of the most valuable risks I've ever taken as an impassioned writer. In addition to the immeasurable creative growth I experienced, one of the most significant outcomes of the year I spent in Iowa was the chance it presented to explore my "sister" calling: to teach.
Hard work included, I had a bona fide blast creating and teaching an entry-level poetry appreciation course as part of the continuing ed program at a stellar community college. Since relocating back to my native land of New York's Hudson River Valley in 2014, my passion for teaching the class as a means to serve language-lovers who are ultra curious about reading poetry but are admittedly weak-kneed in their willingness to do so, has only intensified. As a result, beginning in April 2015, in kinship with National Poetry Month, I will be teaching the course in modified formats presented by public libraries throughout the Hudson Valley.
Now. For those of you who may be thinking, "Hmmm...that's all well and good, and you know, I am one of those curious-reader peeps. I feel intrigued by poetry, and yes, sure, I'd LOVE to be less afraid of it, less baffled by it, less befuddled by its obscure turns of phrases and line breaks and literary mashups and whatnot. I suspect I would absolutely dig the chance to gain some basic skills that will enable me to more readily approach, consider, and enjoy reading poems, but...well, I still don't quite get it. I mean, I'm really really REALLY busy, and my brain already hurts pretty much all the time anyway, so....I guess what I'm asking is, technically speaking, what's in it for busy me (who could instead of taking your class just relax and do nothing or sit in the grass and look up at clouds or relax for a while and eat pie)?"
First of all, let me state for the record that in each and every instance where clouds or pie are presented as options to experience, go with clouds or pie, or if you've hit the experience jackpot, both. That disclaimed, I also contend that my little poetry class delivers big on flavor and sustenance. To the right here, you'll see a general course description. As alluded to there, my approach to teaching students how to transform any knee-jerk reaction to the prospect of reading poetry more regularly from the fear-based "What the--?!—are you [expletive of choice]-ing kidding me??!!" to an easeful "Look mom, no hands!" is to outline, examine, and discuss those key elements of craft that any poet who has ever composed any poem worth any reader's precious time, heart, or mind's eye has masterfully employed.
Okay. All that said, if you're still with me, and now thinking, "Huh? What the--? elements of craft? Wait, I'm sorry, is pie being served in this class or not?" Below is a brief outline of said elements that you, as a beloved student of mine, would be fervently guided to examine and by the end of our session would confidently tuck into the "Fierce Reader of Poetry" toolkit you actually already possess but just needed the key to unlock:
Words (diction, syntax, abstract vs. concrete, denotation, connotation...)
Figures of speech (metaphor, simile, hyperbole, allusion...)
Musicality (rhyme, rhythm, stress, meter, devices of sound...)
Imagery & Symbolism (figurative and sensory language, parable, allegory...)
Voice (tone, persona, point of view, narrative...)
Form (the line, fixed and open forms, forms of culture, prose poems, sonnets...)
Aaaaaand with all that...
If you're at this point kind of getting the gist and feel genuinely intrigued about what my little poetry class can do for you but would SO much prefer I just share a visual still from a pivotal scene from an iconic Hollywood flick to serve as a first-rate metaphor for how it can be that knowing the hidden truths about what goes into writing poems is the best way to enhance the experience of reading them, well...let's just say, by gosh by golly-gee you betchya, kids, there's no place like the scene below for you tilt the lens of your mind's eye.
NOTE: As exhibited above and below, the dress for this class is midwest casual. Ruby muck boots optional, but encouraged.
Do you walk in fear of poetry, yet somehow feel drawn to its charms and long to befriend it, perhaps even waltz right up to its mystifying blaze and invite it inside for a cup of morning brew? If so, rest assured, you are [drumroll...] not alone! In fact, you might even be a poet. As Elizabeth Alexander notes, “Poetry is the human voice. Are we not of interest to each other?” Whether a well-crafted line of verse beacons us to more wholly explore what lies before us or deep within us, poetry can seize our hearts, still our minds, and fortify our lives like no other art form can.
In this illuminating, entry-level poetry appreciation class, you’ll be invited to look beyond the "pageantry” of masterful works and discover the unifying human truths that kindle at every poem’s core. Dynamic lectures, impassioned readings, and an interactive exploration of poetic craft will unite to empower you with the critical tools and adventurous spirit needed to approach those often intimidating lines of verse that secretly long to be your new best pal.
Danielle does a
superior job of
makes poetry tick
while also touching
your heart and mind.
Her passion is infectious.
To be sure, I have a
new appreciation and enthusiasm for poetry,
all thanks to her!
Danielle is a wonderful
and enthusiastic teacher.
She definitely made
would I like to see
in the class?...Ten
more sessions, please!
It was such a pleasure
to revisit the study of a
literary art form without
feeling as if I were in a
rigid academic setting.
Danielle is inspiring!
I loved the intimate,
relaxed setting of the
class, and appreciated
the many resources
Danielle shared with
us to supplement
I have learned so much
about the inner workings
of poetry, which I have
long loved. I only wish the course were longer!
Danielle's one-day program
was very informative
without feeling like a lecture or a class.I learned a lot about poetry—a genre I have not wholly appreciated, until now! I feel confident
I will enjoy reading more
poetry, given all that I
Mighty thanks to all the past, present, and future literary spaces and places that sign on as amazing class sponsors and hosts!
Click the button above to visit the Academy of American Poets website and register to receive a poem a day by email. Kiss it, apples!
*also please do eat apples