On Memorizing Poems

4th March, 2009 - Posted by Christine Perrin - No Comments

One of the best ways to get to know and love and USE poems is to memorize them.  Pick a short poem to begin (perhaps “Dust of Snow” or “A Noiseless Patient Spider”), use hand motions, work line by line repeating the earlier lines each time you learn a new one.  After you’ve learned it, give it to someone as a gift–perhaps at the dinner table or for a birthday gift for that person who is difficult to find a gift for.

Look up Poetry Out Loud online, it is a program put on by the National Endowment for the Arts.  Students from highschools in every state compete and there is a national winner for the best recited three poems.  You can actually win scholarship money for college doing this.  You’ll be amazed at how well you understand the poems when someone recites them with such understanding.  Try to prepare your own poem to this level of understanding.  Notice what and how you learn about the poem as you work on it this way.

This is the way that literature began–with people memorizing language and repeating it to each other at important moments in their culture.  You are participating in something old and natural when you do this.

Posted on: March 4, 2009

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