Well Versed: Poetry Intensive - Grace and Hannah Jackson


Well Versed: Poetry Intensive - Grace and Hannah Jackson for Summer 2024

Teacher: Hannah Jackson

Email: hmjackson90@gmail.com

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Well Versed: A Poetry Intensive

Co-taught by sisters Grace and Hannah Jackson

Dates: June 24–August 2 (six weeks)

Tuition: $300


Course Objectives:

Have you ever heard of a villanelle or a sestina, an accumulatio or a tmesis? When you finish this course, you'll know how to identify these (and many more) verse forms and figures of speech, as well as techniques of musical structure and text painting that composers use to enhance the meaning of the written word. With a poetic lexicon in your mind and with ears attuned to pitch and rhythm, change and repetition, you will return to the poems and music that you love with new and incisive appreciation. You'll be able to detect formal structures shimmering under the surface of poetic and musical lines, and marvel at how such structures support these lines' ability to move and to move you. (You'll also be able to pick out the antanaclasis in that last sentence.) Last but not least, you'll emerge from this course ready to fold these structures into the words you speak and write—so that you too can move others.


Course Content:

Over the 6-week term, students will read works by master poets such as John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost; listen to poems set to music by composers such as Henry Purcell, Franz Schubert, and Clara Schumann; memorize a master poem; and complete a capstone project. While thus reading, listening, memorizing, and writing, students will bolster their poetic toolkit with each weekly module:

  • Week 1: meter; the blank verse of Shakespeare's plays; figures of conjunction
  • Week 2: more meter; the hymn meter of Emily Dickinson's poems; figures of metaplasmus
  • Week 3: the Petrarchan sonnet; figures of omission and arrangement
  • Week 4: the Shakespearean sonnet; figures of substitution and addition
  • Week 5: the villanelle; figures of repetition
  • Week 6: the sestina; more figures of repetition


Who Should Register?

  • Although this course is designed with high school students in mind, anyone who enjoys and is curious about words—specifically the potential of words to be used in playful, poetic, and powerful ways—is welcome! 
  • No prior experience or courses are required; however, cross-connections with AP English Literature as well as with AP Music Theory make this a valuable supplement for students who have taken (or who plan on taking) either of those courses.


Course Format: This course will run for six weeks (June 24-August 2) with three live sessions per week.

  • Tuesday and Friday sessions (11am-12pm EDT) will focus on poetic forms and devices.
    • Attendance is required, but students will be allowed four excused absences (all sessions will be recorded).
  • Thursday sessions (11am-12pm EDT) will venture into the musical treatment of poetry in song.
    • These sessions are optional but recommended!
  • Students should come to class prepared to energetically engage in collaborative poetry analysis and discourse on assigned readings.
  • Outside of class, students will complete a short reading and quiz most weekdays, respond to poetry-focused "icebreaker" discussion prompts, memorize a master poem, and produce a capstone project.
  • This course is worth 1/2 credit.


Course Materials: Most readings (as well as musical scores and recordings) will be provided electronically. There's just one text that you'll want to procure ahead of time:

Quinn, Arthur. Figures of Speech: 60 Ways to Turn a Phrase. You can obtain this text in either of two ways:

  • You can follow Grace's example in buying an inexpensive used copy of the original printing (1982, Gibbs. M. Smith Inc., ISBN 0-87905-121-3)—though Grace warns that her copy has loosened from its binding.
  • Alternatively, you can rent the Kindle version (reprinted in 2010 by Routledge, ISBN 978-1-880393-02-4).


Tech Requirements:

  • We will use Zoom for our live sessions. Students will need a good, high-speed internet connection.
  • Students will need a webcam and mic (computer built-in is fine). Audio and video participation in live sessions is required.
  • Students will need to scan select assignments (or take a picture with an app like Cam Scanner) and submit in PDF format.


Meet the Instructors:


Grace Jackson (pictured on the right)

Dear Students – I can't wait to gather this summer with you and a cluster of soulful, impish, life-changing poets. My earliest memory of poetry is of my second grade self flooding the pages of Helen Ferris's Favorite Poems with highlighter. In "Well Versed," I'll teach you to highlight the salient features of poems with equal vigor, albeit with much more discernment. My own poetic instinct has been enlightened and stretched by my education at the Harvard Extension School, where, this spring, I'll complete my Bachelor of Liberal Arts in the field of English, with a minor in Creative Writing. In this course, I'll share as many eurekas from my English and Creative Writing studies as six weeks can hold. I'll keep our sessions both lively and earnest—a balance I've aimed to achieve as an annual guest-lecturer to an academic writing course at HES and as a memoir-writing coach. When I'm not at my desk, you'll find me traversing my neighborhood in search of sunshine—an activity not unlike that of reading poetry.


Hannah Jackson (pictured on the left)

Greetings! Some of you may already know me from AP Music Theory; if so, I'm thrilled that you're considering taking this course, which further develops topics that we had time to touch only briefly in AP MT. If, on the other hand, you're considering taking AP Music Theory at some point in the future, or even if your interest in music is merely tangential, I think this summer class will provide a delightful point of entry to the world of "critical listening": the consideration of how and why composers make the choices they do, particularly when the meaning and interpretation of text is at stake. While my sister will be your primary instructor in this class, I will be leading the Thursday sessions—hope to see you there!


Questions about the course may be directed to gracejackson1813@gmail.com or hmjackson90@gmail.com.


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