English 2730: Poetry of the Body

English 2730 Gregory


There are deep connections between the physical actions of the body and the art of poetry. Poetry should be read aloud, tasted on the tongue, and felt in the blood and heart. Our workout will prepare us to think about poetry as live and embodied, helping us to see the many ways in which it simultaneously activates both mind and body. Working out prior to class will also clear and focus our minds, preparing us for the high level of concentration that the study of poetry demands. Finally, this course will ask us to think about how we learn, exploring what happens when we integrate parts of our lives that we don’t always think of as related to each other.

Why Yoga?

Both Yoga and poetry encourage introspection and awareness, and Yoga’s study of the relationship between mind, body, and rhythm complements our analysis of poetry. Yoga is an accessible workout for a general audience that comes with minimal risk of injury. It requires no previous training from participants and can be practiced by individuals with a wide range of fitness levels; there are modifications for every pose. Even if you have never taken a fitness class before, you will be able to participate in this workout!


This is a standard 3-credit course. The CRN for registration is 30662.

Will it meet any requirements?

This course fulfills the UT Humanities requirement or the LLSS English Literature requirement.


This course will be taught in Spring 2015, on Fridays from 9 to 11:30.


Class will be held in the University of Toledo’s Rec-Fit Center in the Aerobics room.


The class is open to any student wanting to fulfill a Humanities requirement or willing to try out an unconventional classroom. Dr. Gregory is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Toledo as well as a Yoga instructor. She will teach both the Yoga and poetry sections of the course.


Students will receive only one final grade for the course but must participate in both the fitness and more traditional classroom components in order to pass. The Yoga section of the course will be assigned an internal grade of Pass/Fail and will depend strictly on the student’s presence and effort made to participate. All other grades—quizzes, essays, exams—will relate to the literature portion of the course.

Do I need special equipment?

All you need for Yoga is room to move and a yoga mat. There are mats freely available in the aerobics room, but you may want to buy your own since we work in bare feet. You can obtain a yoga mat for about $20 at a variety of places: Target, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon, etc. You are also strongly urged to buy a Yoga block! They cost about $10. Finally, please bring a water bottle.

Do I need special clothes?

You will need clothes you can bend and stretch in. Loose, but not too baggy. Athletic shorts, t-shirts, and/or yoga pants and tops are appropriate. A sweatshirt, jacket, and socks are recommended as we cool down after the workout. We will work out in bare feet.

Do I need prior experience in Yoga? Can I handle the workout?

You do not need prior workout experience to take this course! Yoga is a flexible workout designed to accommodate a wide range of modifications. Dr. Gregory will show you how to make it less strenuous or more challenging to accommodate your current fitness level. All levels of fitness are welcome.

Isn’t poetry just for English majors?

No, a thousand times over! Poetry is for everyone. Human beings are fundamentally language creatures. More than any other form of communication, we use words to make sense of the world in which we live. We form language, are formed by it, and use it as our main means of social connection. Poetry is one of language’s most basic inclinations. Ever since they could form words, human beings have used creative linguistic expression— metaphor, rhythm, and rhyme—to articulate human experience.

Why study poetry?

Learning to read poetry critically enhances your capacity for imagination, introspection, and sympathy. It develops your emotional range and cultivates your understanding of beauty. It improves your concentration level, training you to attend to challenging questions for sustained periods of time. Finally, it builds your oral communication skills. In short, through the study of poetry, students from a wide range of majors learn to identify, analyze, and evaluate language as an imaginative and provocative force in the world.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Gregory; she would be happy to talk with you!

Photographs by Sam Nelson and Melissa Gregory.