Monday, April 6, 2009

By Heart

Article in the New York Times Sunday about memorizing poetry [linked at right]. Says 1) memorizing poetry is easy 2) it's pleasurable 3) it's cheaper than an i-pod. It also says that memorizing poetry might not help you do anything better, except of course, recite poetry from memory. I only had to memorize poetry once, for one class in college. We each picked a poet and every week we would begin class by going around and reciting a poem by our poet. The poet I memorized and recited was Leslie Scalapino. At first I didn't like Scalapino--I think because I didn't understand her. Then, slowly, I changed my mind. It isn't simply that I became more involved, but memorizing a poem forces you to understand them in a way that simply reading doesn't (or at least it did for me). And that's because to get from word to word and line to line you have come up with a reason why one should follow the other, even if it is just a superficial reason like we talked about clouds, so now we'll talk about ground. I have most of my own poetry memorized, but that is because I wrote it. I know the reason for every word and every line. Certainly right after I have written a poem I know it in complete. When it is someone else's work, that type of familiarity takes work, but it's worth it. I recommend if you think you don't understand a poem, memorize it, be able to conjure it in a context that isn't inside the pages of a book, then see how you feel about it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Indeed, Byron. You guys are good!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wednesday was of course Emily Dickinson. I've been trying to think of something to say about Dickinson and having a devil of a time. She is just too mysterious. But it is comforting to me that these authors we have canonized have a recognizable style.

Thursday was Spencer Reece. A young author, but one I really like. He wrote The Clerk's Tale. I highly recommend it.

I want to write more and am sorry not to have posted yesterday but I got caught up trying to find some one to talk to me about the FDA taking over cigarettes, another subject entirely.