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Reply To: The Metamorphic Journey,” with Craig Deininger, Ph.D.”


It is refreshing to hear of someone committing to memory the poems that speak to them. And although I don’t categorize mythology definitively as poetry, I often call it that. It surely is poetic. And is so all over the place.

During my MFA, I committed 60 pages of poetry to memory, some of which in other languages–about 5 pages of Beowulf in Old English, some Baudelaire, Neruda, a longer piece in Sanskrit from the Puranas and, yes, Fern Hill (since we almost need to merit Dylan with having his own language–ha. And these continue to work wonderfully to sustain the language the piece was written in in my awareness–and with that, all the possibilities of syntax or whatever that are normally not amenable to English can become more so–in short, it offers ways to bend the ‘rule’ and refresh/renew the expression).

But more important, I think memorization is a bit of a lost art, and with that loss, we’ve lost the opportunity to integrate particular pieces that resonate with us into our repertoire, our minds, even, perhaps, our bodies, and language that is somehow both mythic and magical at that.

That a particular poem or segment of a myth resonates with someone is enough to merit memorization. And I don’t believe in having to extrapolate “why” it resonates with me, it just does.

Technology has supposedly relieved us of the burden of memorization–don’t need to remember a phone number, for example. But there’s a loss in that, I think. Well, obviously. So good for you for practicing that art. I think it can only deepen ones relationship to the myths or poems, and on a level that I don’t think technology can yet evaluate. Perhaps it will though soon enough.