Department Newsletter…again!

Monday, December 5th, 2011 by Rachel

It’s so nice to be featured by the department for both publications and my nomination.


The Doer: The Department of English & Rhetoric Newsletter
Issue 4.2: 1 December 2011

Can’t wait for our wishbone to dry out so I can make a wish

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 by Rachel

Turkey skeleton

Reciting my poem last night went well, though it was the strangest poem selection out of the bunch. I think that the process of memorizing these two poems this semester has been a good exercise for me, but I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of person/poet who wants to just sit around and memorize poems for fun. I’m not sure I absorb the music or rhythm the way other poets do. It’s just so hard to spend so much time working on something to forget it within a week. I don’t think I’ll ever assign memorization to a poetry class that I’ll teach, but we’ll see if I stick to my anti-memorization guns down the road… Maybe all memorizing and reciting a poem should be is a rite of passage?


I also got some positive reactions about my Uncle TJ/bunny ghazal and a revision of a different ghazal (making it free verse), so last night was a good last night of poetry. We might be meeting up next week for drinks, since class is over. Hopefully my schedule will allow that.


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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?