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  1. POETRY MEMORIZATION Sara Sánchez Hope College

  2. Good Poetry Teachers: • Like poetry and are enthusiastic about it; take it seriously • Emphasize the pleasure of poetry • Provide more amusing and varied activities (poetry memorization!) • Allow conversational and informal discussion • Seek out students’ views, listen to their interpretations, and treat them with respect and seriousness • Encourage exploration of pupils’ personal experiences in relation to poems • Support the feeling that the emotional experience of poetry is real Taken from “The Poetry Teacher: Behavior and Attitudes” by Molly Travers

  3. A Case for Poetry Memorization • For pure pleasure • Reciprocated devotion • Deepens understanding of the work’s structure and poetic devices • A form of ownership

  4. “The relations among reading, listening, and understanding become more significant. Nowhere are these relations more intensely embodied than in the matter of spoken verse. And nowhere does one learn better how to read either verse or prose aloud than by recitation from memory.” —John Hollander, “Committed to Memory”

  5. “The future of the humanities as a common possession depends on the restoration of a simple, single ideal: getting poetry by heart.”—Clive James, Cultural Amnesia

  6. “If we do not learn by heart, the heart does not feel the rhythms of poetry as echoes or variations of its own insistent beat.”—Catherine Robson, “Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem”


  8. We Real Cool THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL. We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon. Gwendolyn Brooks

  9. Unit Plan: American Poetry • Day 1: Review of literary devices; choose poem and getting acquainted with it • Day 2: Watching performances or hearing readings • Day 3: Memorization • Poem By Heart • Verse by Verse • Old school Line by line • Day 4: Research on Authors • Day 5: Writing Day about experience—how it sheds light on your interpretation of the poem • Days 6-12: Presentations • Bonus: In-Class Open Mic

  10. Memorizing • Poem by Heart by Penguin Classics

  11. Memorization • Verse by Heart • SYK (So You Know) • Recording it as a video or voice memo

  12. Tips • Offer options on poems • Poems in other languages for your ESL students • Teach contemporary poetry first and then go backwards in time • Do memorization sparingly, so you don’t burden students • Teach poems you don’t fully understand—students will gain confidence by journeying with you to understand the poem

  13. Recommended Poems • We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks • The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot • Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson • One Art by Elizabeth Bishop • Ozymandias Percy Bysshe Shelley • Metaphor by Sylvia Plath • Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas • Not Waving but Drowning by Stevie Smith • Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter by Robert Bly • Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou • Slowly by Donna Masini