Memorization Take Two & Quick Update

Monday, November 30th, 2009 by Rachel

It’s happening tonight. I changed my mind. I didn’t memorize Leda and the Swan, but I memorized A Debt is Paid, which I posted here a few weeks back. I’m sort of prudish about these things, so I can’t believe I’ll be saying butt and ass, but that’s okay. Will let you know how it does.


It’s been a strange past week. I’ve had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. I need to write a research paper this week. It’s all in my head, but I’m a little worried that I might need to pull out some supplementary research to fit my topic. My paper is going to be on the role of pop culture in the composition classroom. I’m probably more of an expert on this topic than I give myself credit for. I just feel so uncomfortable writing about my teaching… I need to get over that.


No new news about Uncle TJ. I requested a see no speak no hear no evil bunny rabbit stack (meaning there are three of them piled on top of each other). that I saw in his office sitting on top of the tv. It was pretty creepy. You can barely tell they are bunny rabbits…I didn’t think I’d have much competition for it. Mom and Dad brought it to me on their way back through Milledgeville up to NC. Like I explained to them, these strange bunnies sat on top of his TV, and he must have looked at them every single day. He loved it, so I love it. I wrote a ghazal about bunnies today. We’ll see how that goes.


Speaking of ghazals, I’ve never heard of them, but I think the form is growing on me. I bought (and recommend) this book: Ravishing DisUnities. There is one in there by Richard Chess, one of my poetry teachers at UNCA.


I basically taught my last class last week. This week is conferences, and next week they’ll be turning in their 8-10 page research papers. Overall, my first semester teaching here at Georgia College has been a good one. Students have been diligent, interested, friendly, polite. I haven’t had any of the discipline or literacy problems that I had in my first semester at NAU. I would say that I’m sad that the semester is ending, but I’ll have 26 of the same students in the spring…I’m excited to see how having repeat students works out, since I only had one at NAU.

Memorization followup

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 by Rachel

So I memorized Kim Addonizio’s “First Poem for You” and recited it last week in class. I gave a copy of the poem to my classmate (the only other incoming poet) Stephan to be my spotter, just in case, and I think that made me more comfortable. I recited it, and I think I did a pretty decent job.


I had to memorize a poem in middle school…something by Langston Hughes I think? I had to memorize a poem in my first college Intro to Poetry class—this one I recited in my professor’s office, just the two of us. I had to memorize a little eight line poem for class during my MA, and I remember becoming so infuriated. I was one of two students who actually bothered to do the memorizing, so the professor said, “eh, we’ll do it next week”. We never did.


I have always had trouble memorizing. Not only does it take me weeks to memorize and be able to say outloud a couple lines, but I have absolutely NO retention. I can’t even tell you the names or a line of those two poems from freshman year or a year and a half ago. I don’t know what they were. I don’t think I could recite Kim Addonizio’s poem right now without having to stop and really really think about it.


As a requirement for this class, I have to recite not one, but TWO poems. So with five weeks left, I need to get started. I think I’m going to choose another sonnet—Leda and the Swan maybe. But my question to you is, why should I memorize these poems? It’s a very old-school sort of traditional requirement. I appreciate it for what it is, but it seems like an awful lot of work to go into a one minute recitation and eventual forgetting of the poem. Do any of the rest of you have to memorize poems? And what do you feel about its purpose? Does it help you KNOW the poem any better than you did before?


Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 by Rachel

I have a hard time memorizing poems. I’ve struggled with it for as long as I can remember. But I’ve been working REALLY hard for the past month, and I hope to recite the following poem in class on Monday. It might be my favorite poem. Will let you know how it goes


First Poem for You
by Kim Addonizio


I like to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you
to me, taking you until we’re spent
and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
the pictures in your skin. They’ll last until
you’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.