Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Memorizing Poems & Stuff!

I know it's been a while, and I really did mean to post on here from the beginning of the semester about my poetry workshopping experiences, but that is something I would be more comfortable discussing via email, if you are interested. In terms of my other classes, I'm taking a Teaching Comp. & Lit course (sort of a revamp of the exact same class I took during my MA work) and thesis hours--the one on one thesis hours spent with Martin Lammon are by far the moments when I feel like I REALLY belong here in this program.

Still, as a workshop related thing, I am required to memorize and recite two poems for the course. Here's the linky to my post on this: Memorization followup

I look forward to seeing your thoughts on this requirement.

(Oh, and hope you all had a happy halloween weekend!)


  1. I love memorization and I think it's a great idea. My first ever poetry class had as memorize lines from poems each week and I'm always wanting to get back to that practice. Now I'll go read the post on your blog.

    Oh, and in my one-on-one consultations I also feel like I really belong. So I know exactly where you're coming from.

  2. I'm amazed how different Shakespeare is from an actor's vs. lit student's perspective. I've done both, luckily. When you're actually speaking the poetry, trying to make it do something, be an action on stage, it's a totally different experience. If you do scantion as an actor while you're learning your part, you actually see how Shakespeare communicates the character's state of mind and even possible actions via changes or disruptions in the meter. It's quite amazing, and you wouldn't get this angle on it at all by taking a solely academic perspective.

    The larger point is, a text is different when it's embodied vs. disembodied. Not every poem is dramatic by nature. However, memorizing it to the point where you can speak it, where it's coming from your body not the page, will definitely bring new meaning to it. You're more inside it because it's more inside you.

  3. it has been so long since i memorized a poem or lines but i really want to try for my book release party! you give me the desire to do it!

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  5. I memorized Leda and the Swan for a form and theory class. I then promptly sacrificed lost all my newly achieved literati points by getting drunk at a Christmas party and reciting/acting it.. I was going to link the video from facebook but I guess you can't share them publicly...probably for the best.

    *above post deleted for spelling...wish they had an edit feature.

  6. Jonathan - that sounds fantastic!

    I am a fan of memorization, but it comes easily to me (all those years of private school indoctrination actually *did* give me some useful academic skills). I know it is not easy for everyone and can be very stressful for some people, so I'm not such a fan of requiring students to do it for class, although I do agree with Jamie that a poem is very different when it is physically embodied by being spoken aloud, so I think memorizing, or at the very least reading aloud, poems for class can be very useful.

    And I am always so impressed by poets who can recite their own work from memory. I think it's a great skill to develop!


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