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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Poetís New Yearís Resolution: Memorize your own and your favorite poems

By December 31, 2013

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Memory has become a vestigial organ like the appendix, that wiggly finger off the intestine that they think was there to help process raw food. Now that food comes basically pre-chewed, Appendix sits there, lonely pinkie of the innards, ready to explode all over its internalized uselessness. Does Memory do the same in the brain? Now that our memories, stories, histories, images can be recalled at any time from where they are stored outside ourselves, has our internal faculty of remembering grown stiff and useless? Are the rampages of our serial killers and mass murderers due to the mental explosions of forgetting, losing mind’s capacity to remember so that they lose mental footing in the unforgiving quicksand that is reality 21st-century-style, the machine gun in the hand like a clicker in front of the TV screen?

There is no surer way to make a poem your own than to learn’t by heart—use our handy step-by-step to memorize it. Can you say that you truly know a poem if you haven’t committed it to memory and lived inside it for a while? And if you are making the poem, if you are the poet writing a poem, can you say it’s really finished if you can’t yet say it by heart?

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