The Joys (and Curious Political Implications) of Reciting Poetry — Barry Spector
In Praise of Memorizing Poetry—Badly –– Robert Pinsky
Memorize That Poem! — Molly Worthen
Maya Angelou on Reciting Poetry:
At the age of eight, while living with her mother, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. The man was found guilty but was jailed for only one day. Four days later, he was murdered. Angelou became mute for almost five years, believing that “I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone…” During this period of silence she developed her extraordinary memory, her love for books and literature, and her ability to listen and observe the world around her. Angelou and her brother were sent back to their grandmother. She credits a teacher, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, with helping her speak again:
You Do Not Love Poetry
When I was about 11 and a half, she said to me one day
— I used to carry a tablet around on which I wrote answers — and she asked me, “Do you love poetry?” I wrote yes…She told me, “You do not love poetry. You will never love it until you speak it. Until it comes across your tongue, through your teeth, over your lips, you will never love poetry.”…Finally, I did take a book of poetry, and I went under the house and tried to speak, and could.
Two poems about reciting poetry:
Rumi’s Caravan, by Randy Thomas
Prodigals and pilgrim’s journey
Soul and spirit, gathering place
Common ground conspiring flow
Caravan of time and Grace
Inner movements, drawn to listen
Love and Silence, Womb and Birth
Remembering hearts, awakening minds
Word and image, light and earth
Emptying and opening passage
Depth and fullness, fount and well
Descending and arising spirals
Creative source, abide, indwell
Betrothed, beloved sacred marriage
Divine and human beauty free
Intimacy of heart and breath
Embodying stream and flow to be
Sacred Heart, radiant axis
Piercing through the cosmic night
Life and death, transforming birth
Beams and rays, imbuing sight
Diamond starburst, crystal nova
Primal seed and spark aflame
Returning to the garden’s center
Tree of Life, unfolding name
Gravity and compass guiding
Crucible and fire endue
Crossing thresholds, doubt and fear
Enduring pain and suffering through
Letting go the known familiar
Prison of the grasping hold
Beyond within consent’s surrender
Strength and courage, trust uphold
Warp and woof, call and vision
Resonance and blessings hear
Whispers of the still small voice
Destiny and Presence near
Here and now, the mirror polish
Clarity enfolding warmth reveal
Light and Love reflecting others
Glistening web of Mystery real
Consciousness of Loving Being
Wholeness of the One Embrace
Wisdom and Compassion bearing
Mercy’s bosom, womb of Grace
Healing wounds and false divisions
Ground of justice, making peace
Humility of loving-kindness
Living matrix, balm release
Opening hearts, unfolding hands
Channeling creation’s flow
Evolving and emerging movements
Becoming form in Spirit grow
Entering the whirling dance
Universal peace and song
Inviting and attuning center
Expanding orbits, love belong
On Memorizing a Poem, by Max Reif
“In the beginning was the Word.”
Creation is involved here,
not just “print-on-a-page”!
These are flowers
of the ages,
Nor can you clip them
and stuff them
in a mental vase.
You have to plant them,
the seeds of words,
atoms whirling with life,
even the ones that seem inert.
becomes the steady hand
holding the watering can.
every word sprouts.
reach out, join hands, join
a clause, a sentence. Finally,
each word so tropically bonded
it no longer exists alone.
A stanza coheres. The force
new critical mass,
the spirit leaps
across the gap to the next stanza,
back to the one before!
Every reading, connections firmer.
New ones arise, flourish
like bougainvillea. Roads appear.
Signs. Turn Left Here.
Paths and gardens of knowing
form in the brain.
climb up in the air,
perfume it, above the brain!
Finally, a world
lives inside to be invoked,
called forth like a genie.
Every poem or story
made one’s own
initiates its keeper
into a long line
to ancient campfires.
Every teller chants with Homer,
Valmiki, bards whose names
we do not know- carries
this Light in eyes