Event—Adult Education

Little Poems: Sappho to the Beatles


Poetry has persisted since time immemorial. In this class, you’ll explore this enduring form of human expression in its many different forms.

Theophilos Hatzimhail, ''Sappho and Alcaeus, 1932. Courtesy of Thephilos Museum, Mytilene, Greece. Source: Theophilos Hatzimihail, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Class Description

Most of us experience literature for the first time in the form of a “little poem.” Long before we’ve tasted solid food, we’ve heard a soothing lullaby sung by a parent, and before we start school, we’ve already accumulated a storehouse of nursery rhymes.

But little poems range far beyond the nursery. Poets of every era have written them, and in this class, we will sample that remarkable history, discussing poems (all with 12 or fewer lines) from the 7th century BCE to the present—poems that tell stories, paint pictures, touch our emotions, and invite us to see the world in new ways.

The class is intended for both poetry lovers and those who have found poetry baffling or intimidating in the past and are ready for an accessible re-introduction to this enduring form of human expression.

Michael Hennessy is professor emeritus of English at Texas State University. He has been reading, teaching, and writing about poetry for more than forty years. His anthology Little Poems was published by Knopf in 2023.

Materials List


  • Instructor-Distributed Materials

First Reading

  • Please read selected poems provided by the instructor prior to the first class.

Cost and Registration

Six sessions, $247 ($220.50 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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