How can poetry be taught?

“How can a writer take a writing class?” I asked myself. Writing isn’t bricklaying or astrophysics. Writing comes from the heart, not the head. In order for it to flow from within it must remain within; no taking it out to poke and prod it. It has to remain secret; to know it is to take something away from its essence.

“It has to be admitted,” says Quintilian, “that learning does take something away – as a file takes something away from a rough surface, or a whetstone from a blunt edge, or age from wine – but it takes away faults, and the work that has been polished by literary skills is diminished only insofar as it is improved.”

It took me several years to see this, but I realized that in order to write a sonnet, you have to know the rules.