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Part poetry writing workshop, part philosophy class, this virtual course examines the power of poetry for cultivating the intellectual, emotional, and practical capacities that are most needed in our current historical moment. Through reading poetry, writing poetry, and discussing the philosophy of poetry, we will deepen our connection to the mythopoetic forces that sustain us. No prior experience in philosophy or poetry is required.

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What Are Poets For? The Saving Power of Poetry

"This course has inspired me to keep a journal and write poetry for the first time in years. The interplay of philosophy and poetry has made a space for me to consider how I interact with time, the world, the sacred, myself and my loved ones. The kind instructors invite and encourage personal introspection and the potential to learn from the self." - Peter M., former course participant

​Course objectives


Participants who complete this course will: 

  • Be introduced to fascinating and inspiring works of poetry and philosophy. 

  • Create original works of poetry in the form of a personalized “book of hours” designed to cultivate moments of awareness, remembrance, and transcendence. 

  • Make new friends while having intimate discussions about some of our deepest individual and collective challenges, guided by caring and supportive coaches. 

"I would recommend this course to anyone looking to dive deep and reconnect with meaning and purpose through poetry and philosophy. The course has helped me to start writing again, and has provided me with a supportive and stimulating environment to exchange ideas and creative work with others. The instructors do an excellent job of making the class material and discussion stimulating, approachable, and inspiring. I always feel energized by what we cover in class, and ready to go deeper." - Carrie F., former course participant

Course description


“What are poets for in a destitute time?” This question, posed by Hölderlin in the poem “Bread and Wine,” challenges us to think about poetry in relation to the great historical dramas of our moment. According to the philosopher Martin Heidegger, modern life is organized around the concern for control, rationality, and efficiency, and as a result we are experiencing a growing disconnection from the sacred. If this disconnection from the sacred is the underlying cause of the ecological, political, cultural crises we face today, then what is most urgently needed is to reclaim our sensitivity to the meaning of our lives—a task for which poetry is uniquely suited. 

To this end, the central focus of our work together will be the creation of your own, personal book of hours. A book of hours in the Christian tradition is a prayer book that was developed in medieval Europe and used for private devotion. Together we will reimagine what a book of hours might be — a space for remembering, collecting, and inventing poetic images that speak to our ownmost sources of spiritual sustenance and longing. 

In addition to whole-class meetings on Thursday evenings, you will have the option of joining smaller discussion groups on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You will also have ample opportunities to work privately with the instructors to refine your work.  

Required Texts

  • Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (translated by Barrows & Macy)

"I found the class to be extremely relevant to the issues we're all facing now.  Francisco and Petra are both extremely knowledgeable in their fields and they created a supportive and passionate environment for would-be poets and/or philosophers. The homework and creative work between classes was just enough to introduce fresh ideas without being burdensome." - Jan G., former course participant

In addition to being the poetry editor at Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, Petra is a published poet and founder of the Others Ink writing collective, and is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at UNC-Greensboro. Francisco’s research focuses on existential phenomenology, emotions, and Latin American philosophy. Both Petra and Francisco were born and raised in New Mexico. They are married and live in North Carolina.

About the Facilitators

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Petra SalazarPoetry Editor at Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing

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Francisco Gallegos, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Wake Forest University