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Charter Education Institute

Poetry for Inspiration and Well-Being

CEI online course

  • Start Date: April 15, 2019
  • Duration: 4 weeks. Tuition: $25
  • Registration Opens: March 22, 2019


Facilitator John Smelcer talks about the course:

Taught by one of the longest-serving poetry editors of a major national literary journal in American history, this online course includes mini-lectures, videos, polls, Q&A, and written exercises and reflections, as well as peer review. You can learn at your own pace and within a comfortable time frame, typically 60 to 90 minutes a week for four weeks. William Carlos Williams once wrote that “it is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” And the Romantic Poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, husband to Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), once wrote that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Here’s your chance to be part of a global community of like-minded thinkers who want to learn more about how poetry can change the world, save the planet, inspire compassion and social justice, and how it can also be therapeutic, improving well-being.

Does this describe you?
Do you sometimes wish you were a writer but you don’t know where to start? Do you think you have to earn a degree to be a writer? All it really takes to be a writer is a desire to write, imagination, time, and persistence. A writer is someone who writes. A poet is someone who sees the world differently from everyone else and who can put their vision into words.

We Invite You
You are invited to join a community of like-minded people in the Compassion Education Institute’s (CEI) online course Poetry for Inspiration and Well-Being. Learn how poetry can inspire us and others to become more compassionate, how it can inspire compassionate social and environmental change, and how writing poetry can improve well-being.

We are pleased to offer this course in partnership with the Charter for Compassion

Enrollment and Cost
Poetry for Inspiration and Well Being - $25 tuition rate* includes:

  • Interaction (online) with instructor and community of peers throughout the course.
  • Practical, easy-to-implement techniques you can begin using from the first day.
  • Access to content, activities, and downloadable exercises in four (4) weekly online lessons. Weekly topics covered include:

Week 1:  Participants will learn about the nature of poetry. What is a poem? What differentiates a poem from prose? Is poetry even relevant today? Why is poetry necessary? We will discuss the elements of poetry and the usefulness of peer editing and of establishing a respectful (online) writing community. We will also discuss the format of this class and what we can all do to ensure its success and usefulness to everyone.

Week 2: Participants will continue to learn about the fundamentals of writing poetry. We will discuss the form and structure of poetry, the length of poems, diction (word choice), and the usefulness of a good title. Students will try their hand at writing therapeutic poetry, i.e. poems that explore our feelings about the past, thereby beginning a process of healing and well-being.

Week 3: Participants will learn about autobiographical poetry, the usefulness of reading your poem aloud, the power of poetry to illuminate truths, and how writing poetry is hard work. We will also explore how poetry can inspire hope and resilience in the darkest of times.

Week 4: Participants will learn how they can write poems that inspire others to help make the world a better place through acts of compassion, understanding, and tolerance. We will learn how poetry can incite social, political, cultural, and even environmental change (through ecological poetry). We will examine the value of establishing a writing routine and making a little time to write in your busy life. We will also explore ideas for taking poetry public, and about further resources for students interested in continuing their studies of writing.

*If you are enthusiastic about this course but cannot pay the tuition due to a financial hardship, you can ask for a possible scholarship. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Priority will be given to those residing in developing countries.

How Does This Course Work?

  • The 4 weekly lessons of “Poetry for Inspiration and Well-Being” are completely online—with easily downloadable exercises and reflections.
  • Lessons can be accessed from anywhere and at any time as long as you have an internet connection.
  • Work through each lesson at your own pace during the week, posting comments and questions online, and crafting new poems.
  • This is a self-paced course, so if you get behind you can catch up at any time and review past lessons at your convenience. Content remains available even after the official end date of the course.
  • As your guide, I will read your comments and add my own or perhaps ask questions to provoke further thought.
  • Refund Policy - 100% the first week. 50% refund the second week. No refund after that.
  • Send your questions to John Smelcer


Course Facilitator


John Smelcer (Ph.D.) is the award-winning author of more than fifty books, including a dozen books of poetry. His poems have been published in over 500 journals worldwide. He studied literature and world religions at Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard. He has taught literature and creative writing at universities for three decades. For almost a quarter of a century, he was poetry editor at Rosebud Magazine, what the Boston Globe once called “the best literary magazine in America.” In 2015, Dr. Smelcer discovered the world possessions of Thomas Merton, one of the most influential religious and spiritual philosophers and writers and