Bodies and minds stretch in class that warms up to poetry

October 11, 2012 | Arts, Events, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences
By Cynthia Nowak

Dr. Melissa Gregory wants students to get into a sweat over poetry — literally.

Dr. Melissa Gregory demonstrates a side angle. She will teach Poetry of the Body, a special section of English 2730: Reading Poetry next spring.

The associate professor of English will use the aerobics room of the Main Campus Student Recreation Center to teach Poetry of the Body, a special section of English 2730: Reading Poetry, for spring 2013.

A certified instructor of PiYo — a fusion of yoga and Pilates — Gregory will create a unique class that blends physical fitness and the study of literature. Each session will begin with a 45-minute PiYo Strength™ workout that will transition into the study of poetry.

For Gregory, it’s a natural pairing.

“To my mind, poetry is already physical,” she said. “The earliest poems were oral, meant to be chanted or sung. Poems contain sounds meant to be voiced aloud, organized around rhythm and meter to which your body responds — your heartbeat, for instance, can react to the heartbeat of a poem.”

The three-credit-hour course fulfills the Humanities Core requirement and is scheduled for Fridays from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Accessibility and inclusiveness are the aspects Gregory emphasized as she worked to set the finishing touches on the course. It isn’t necessary to be someone who works out regularly, she noted, nor do you have to be an English major to enjoy the course.

“When I work out, it clears my mind and settles me down, allows me to focus better,” she said. “This course should provide an attractive change for students who are running around all day from course to course, or from course to job to course. When we focus on the poetry right after the workout, I’m betting it will come more easily for everyone.”

Her hope is that students will see poetry in a new way, learning to think about things — even beyond exercise and poetry — in a more integrated way.

“It’s healthy to be conscious of ways you can bring areas of your life together,” she said.

For more details on the class, visit Gregory’s website.

Spring registration info is here.

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