Every poet knows April is National Poetry Month. And April is just about here. So why not challenge yourself, in honor of National Poetry Month, to memorize one of your favorite poems? Do this for the joy of it. Select one poem from among your favorites. Make it one that you have not previously memorized for a performance or a reading. Make it one that you do not already partially know by heart because you’ve read it so many times it has already embedded part of itself into the fabric of your brain.
Consider this act of memorizing a creative exercise. One that you are committing in an effort to not only celebrate National Poetry Month, but to also further your own practice as a poet.
Accept the challenge to memorize all or part of your chosen poem. But, be smart about it. Segment and chunk the poem in phrases, lines, or stanzas as you go. Know thyself in terms of how you’ll manage learning the lines best. If you need to consider the poem line by line over the course of a week or a month, then do it. If you are a quick study and can memorize a stanza or two easily within minutes or hours, go for it. If you need a few days or weeks, who is watching? If it takes you months, no one will be the wiser. This is not a competition.
Memorizing a poem is a creative and personal challenge. So go pick a poem. Consider writing or typing out a copy of it to help you initially work through it. Set the goal of memorizing individual lines first. Start small. Take the poem apart bit by bit. Honor the poem in your commitment to memorizing it. Enjoy the words, the rhythm, the cadences. Remember that this is not a race. Unlike so many other things in our lives, there is no sense of urgency, other than committing to finishing what you start.
Try it. See what happens.
Memorizing a favorite poem may change your life. Or it may do nothing for you at all other than give you something to recite to yourself when you are stuck at a traffic light or going for a walk.
Both options could be wonderful. Are you in?
~J. Adams Lagana