The best way to experience poetry is to hear it out loud. While some poems are made to be read, for many you cannot get their full effect without hearing the spoken word. Epic poems were used since ancient times to tell stories and teach lessons, a task which has been replaced by books, movies, television, and the Internet. There is still a place for poetry, however.
Whether it’s in competitions, or just to entertain, reciting poetry can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience. Having children recite poetry that they have memorized can be a fantastic exercise on many levels. It can help with remembering details. It can be instructive in proper preparation and organization. Finally, it can teach valuable performance skills.
Memorizing poetry can be a challenge for some people, though. Here are some simple ways to make memorizing a poem a snap.
Start with a short poem. Don’t be tempted to bite off more than you can chew. Committing a short poem to memory will give confidence that will come through on stage and at the next study session.
Pick a poem that is interesting to you. It’s always much harder to study something that you could care less about. The more that the words or the poet mean to you, the more invested you will be in the process and the easier the poem will be to memorize.
Read the poem over and over again. Try to grasp the meaning of the poem, and don’t just try to remember the words without any context. It can take dozens of times to reread the poem before you grasp its deeper meaning. Write down how the poem makes you feel. In other words, try to understand the poem, before you memorize it. It will make an enormous difference both in studying, and in performing.
Take a break from time to time. Give yourself a chance to rest and your brain the opportunity to absorb the material. Sometimes pushing harder and longer will only result in frustration. Stop intermittently, walk around, and give your conscious mind something else to occupy it for a little while. Better yet, take a nap. Studies show that we tend to learn better when the material is reviewed prior to sleep.
Make sure that you remain relaxed while you study. Don’t think about deadlines, expectations, or performance anxiety. We know that stress has a negative effect on the brain, and specifically on memory. Clear your mind of extraneous thoughts. Sometimes yoga and meditation can help with this. For other people, though, just listening to soothing music can do the trick.
Try to make your study environment conducive to focus and productivity. It’s no good to try to memorize a poem in a busy room with lots of distraction. Do what you need to filter out the background noise and remain set on your objective.
Take this advice to heart and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. Getting up in front of others to read poetry will be a fun experience, and you’ll leave your audience awed and inspired.