Sunday, March 17, 2013

memorization begins in earnest

For some time I have been coming to grips with the hard truth that memorizing poetry is a task setting me free, taking me across a new border, as a thinker, a preacher, and a man. It is quite remarkable that it took the completion of my own book of poetry to make the necessary space to start memorizing others' poems and occasionally my own. I am stubborn, and a procrastinator, but I knew I would give in.

My first set of tasks: four poems in the Irish flow by David Whyte. I have one down: The Seven Streams. I recited it at church and had it pretty much at my disposal. Several phrases are coming alive for me in ways they had not previously, even having read and heard this poem maybe fifty times. Memorization is an altogether different muscle and it lends itself to creativity of the mind that is quite unexpected.

Next will be Tobar Phadraic, Mameen, and Coleman's Bed. There are many others by Whyte that I am anxious to commit to memory, but I need to make patient space for some of my own, including Border Ways, and poems by Gerard Manly Hopkins, Robert Frost, William Blake, and Mary Oliver. Somehow the moment that I am calling myself a poet, I feel a need to protect and foster the craft for those who have come before me. This is great work and no waste of time for everything else I am about. I am coming into a generosity I have not previously known. Spring is four days away and the season seems fitting for new discovery.

I must give thanks to finally finding the method that works for me and the credit goes to J.J. Hayes. Read about his simple memorization process.

The Great Carl Sandburg of Flat Rock, NC
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