I started my published writing life as a poet. I’d always read poetry, as did everyone in my family. Poetry was recited in the house regularly – it was part of my growing up. I did a weird subject available in Queensland called Speech and Drama which required students to memorise poems and learn to read them on the page. At a practical exam, armed with the anthology of the grade, your examiner would tell you to turn to a certain page, and you’d need to read the poem for clarity and emotional truth. I suppose it was a bit like a musician reading music.
I still memorise poems – a few years ago I began learning a poem a week while I walked the dogs. Then the little dog became too old to manage a poem length walk and my husband retired and began to walk with me, which meant talking-and-walking and the habit dropped away. Recently I’ve reinstated it.
I think it’s an enormous help for anyone writing poem to actually memorise other people’s poems. I’m not at all interested in learning my own – but when I learn other people’s I ‘hear’ the nuances of the phrasing, the odd falters and the bold, wild triumphs.
Every so often I’ll post a poem of my own here, or an out-of-copyright poem I’ve enjoyed learning.
I began memorising poems a few years ago and then got out of the habit, partly because I started learning French, partly because the little terrier became too old for a poem-learning length walk and then because I went overseas for five months. I decided I’d go back to it – not as a New […]