Samara O'Shea

Committed to Memory

Have I ever told you that I memorize poetry? It’s something I started doing as a freshman in high school and have done sporadically ever since (read sporadically: sometimes an entire year will go by without me memorizing and other times I’ll absorb two poems in one week). Memorizing poetry is gratifying in and of itself—without an audience. It grants one a deeper understanding of the poem, and not always right away. Sometimes I’ll re-recite something to myself years after first memorizing it and pick up on something new. I also love having access to inspirational words at all times and in all places. Yesterday an idea came to me: What if I start a new blog and upload videos of myself (with the hopes that other enthusiastic poetry memorizers will join in) reciting that which I’ve committed to memory? It might be fun to have an audience and show off my skills, and if no one ends up watching then I’ve lost nothing. I’m going to memorize the poetry (sometimes compelling prose) regardless.

Part of what made me think to do this is that I’ve been invited recently to become a founding council member of a new association. I can’t name the association just yet because the organization’s leader has asked us all to keep quiet until a formal announcement is made. I’m very excited about it though and can’t wait to tell you! Anyway, as part of our matriculation each member of the council is to produce a 5-minute video in which we discuss our work. In order to do this we’ll be given (and get to keep!) a flip-video camera and mini-tripod. I’ve been assured that the camera is ridiculously easy to use and upload content even for techies like me still operating on the elementary level. Having the camera makes me think posting a weekly / bi-weekly poem recital is doable.

Last night I Googled “memorizing poetry” to see if anyone else is doing this. I came across this great article courtesy of (once again) the NY Times about the joys of memorizing poetry and it was posted (drum roll please) just this past April. Hooray for old trends becoming new again! It totally reinforced my idea, and I reserved this morning.

I’m nervous to speak of this because it might be one of those projects I get excited about and ultimately abandon for one reason or another. The only thing I can see stopping me will be the camera never coming or my not figuring out how to work it. Right now, I’m confident it’ll come together. I’ll keep you posted. And if you like memorizing poetry or want to give it a go for the first time—please join me!