January 28, 2013

Memorizing Poetry

A former colleague of mine shared this article from the New Yorker on why it's important to memorize poetry and it caused me to try and recall the last time I memorized something. It's been a long time. In thinking about it, I realized a few things: I don't know many peoples' addresses...I have spreadsheets for that. And as for phone numbers, they are stored safely in my phone's contact list. I am notified of my friends' birthdays by Facebook so I don't have to remember those and my wide assortment of Internet passwords and logins are jotted down in a secure location.

It used to be that we'd have to remember when our favorite television shows aired so we could rush home to watch them...now I watch shows on Hulu whenever I feel like it. With all the technology we currently have at our fingertips, there is little need to memorize anything....except maybe where you put your phone or computer.

While reading the article about poetry memorization, I was reminded of all the poems I memorized as a child. I had an audio recording of Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic that I'd listen to as I fell asleep each night. I can still recite many of those poems even though I haven't seen the book in years. It's not that I ever get a chance to recite them, but somehow knowing that I still can gives me a sense of accomplishment.

This is how I ended up awake at nearly 1 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, reading a book of poetry. And this is why I've decided to start memorizing poems again. There are 48 weeks left in 2013...I'm sure I can memorize at least a poem every few weeks or so. Even if I just learned one a month, that would be 12 poems memorized over the course of a year...which is 12 less than I've memorized in the last 12 years. It might seem like a silly goal, but I'm pretty excited.

{If this post doesn't alert you to the fact that I'm sort of a nerd, I don't know what would.}

I'd love for you to join me in this, if you're so inclined. There is no test...no prize. Just the feeling of satisfaction and awe at our brains for being able to hold such a vast amount of knowledge. So wish me luck! I'll keep you posted on my progress.