Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quick Rules for Better Writing, Part 3

Memorize poems. Knowing poems is a wonderful thing. It makes them live and they become part of you. This will teach you much and impress the poem upon you. As you work with poems, studying and memorizing, they become you, part of what consciously and subconsciously informs your work. The more you have to draw from the more you have to draw from. All the best poets I know can recite a lot of poetry. Learn the old, the new. The discipline is wonderful and the physical feel of reciting a poem is informative regarding the woof and warp of language, the same language you are trying to write in. Memorizing and reciting poetry is similar to writing it out longhand as I urged earlier but it is an entirely different way of knowing and inhabiting the poem. Again, it will enable the poem in all of its depth and breadth to inform your own work as you write and as you revise.

I hasten to add that I am not speaking of memorizing a few lines, snatches of poems. We can all do that. I speak of memorizing entire poems, beginning to end. It is not easy but it will enrich you beyond the costs of the work of it.

Part 4 next.
So long for now.

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