I don’t remember where I got the idea, but recently I’ve started memorizing poems and posting recordings of me reciting them on Instagram. They’ve been mostly short thus far, 10 to 15 lines. But I aim to take on longer ones as I get more under my belt and feel more adventurous.
Part of this is a memory exercise. I haven’t been obligated to memorize something of value since college (sup, Gray’s “Elegy”), and I know it’s good for the brain to do so. But it’s also because quoting poetry or Shakespeare at opportune moments is a cliche from the movies I think we could use more of in real life. And until now the only poem I could recite was “Advice” by Langston Hughes—a whopping 19 words long.
So far I’ve done “Nothing Is Too Small Not to Be Wondered About” by Mary Oliver, “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry, and “Carrying On Like A Crow” by Charles Simic. I found them more or less at random by opening those authors’ poetry collections and paging through until something jumps out. I recommend doing that the next time you’re at the library.
Which reminds me: I gotta find my next poem.