Saturday, May 09, 2015
Annie Finch from Huff Post's THE BLOG: Memorising Poems
"When I teach a new group of poets, I often ask who knows some poetry by heart, and it turns out that many of them do. If you're like most people, even if you have never memorized a poem, you can recite a few lines of a children's poem, an advertising jingle, or maybe some song lyrics that sound like poetry when recited. So you know you can do it. Setting out to memorize a poem on purpose just makes the process more intentional.
Here are my top tips for memorizing a poem:
1. Choose a poem that will feed you, one you truly love. Since memorized words become, in a sense, a part of your personality and your life, by committing certain poems to memory you can consciously choose to shape yourself and your life in certain directions.
2. Consider a poem that has strong rhythm or uses meter and rhyme. These ancient poetic tools were developed in part to help with memorization, and they work.
3. Write or print out a copy. This way, you can keep the poem near you, and every time you see it you will be reminded to practice. You can put your copy on the bathroom sink while you brush your teeth, next to you at the dinner table, in the car for a quick glance when stopped at a red light, and yes, nestled in your pocket while you walk.
4. Start at the beginning. Memorize the first line first and keep adding onto it, line by line. Gradually increase the amount you can recite until you get to the end. Each time you recite, start at the beginning. This helps your confidence and strengthens the effect each time you run through the poem.
5. Recite the poem frequently and stop to take a look at it as soon as you get confused, so you can catch any mistakes right away before they get ingrained.
6. Try using your body for help. Break the poem into sections, and associate each section with a gesture, change of posture or position, or other physical movement. That way, your body will do the remembering for you.
7. Consider working with buddies. As I found with "Ode to a Nightingale," you may find it easier to memorize if you do it with other people. You could support each other and share notes, or challenge and compete with each other.
The more you memorize, the easier it is to do, at any stage of life. Your brain gets used to it and better at it, and you'll find that you become more confident. Before you know it, you may find you have a whole library of favorite poems in your mind and body--and every month will be National Poetry Month.
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