Walking the Poem

Poems I've memorized

Poems I’ve memorized

This week I recite, Memorizing The Sun Rising by John Donne, by Billy Collins, the poem that inspired last week’s recitation.

When I took on this challenge: memorizing, reciting and recording 52 poems in 2014; I wasn’t certain how I’d go about it. I’d memorized a couple of poems in school, but I wasn’t in theater–accustomed to memorizing lines, and well, I’m not very a disciplined sort.

So, I put together a little ritual on week one and it’s worked very well. First, I write the poem out and then fold it into five portions, a part that I will learn each day. I take it with me on my morning walk and speak it into the countryside to the rhythm of my footfalls. Just as Billy Collins claims,the poem showed no interest in walking by his side, until he’d taken it for a walk, I find it very difficult to internalize a poem without walking with it.

Walking plays a role in much of my creative process. I must walk to find the objects for my art . I do a lot of revision in my head as I’m walking and I carry a small notebook, because I often receive ideas and sometimes entire poems during my perambulations.

It pleased me to read that Billy Collins used, in part, the same method as I, though he doesn’t mention it, I imagine he too, takes a dog with him.

followed only by the plume of her tail

followed only by the plume of her tail


Do you have a physical activity that’s integral to your creative process? I’d love to hear about it.

4 thoughts on “Walking the Poem

  1. This isn’t a physical activity but when I really need to concentrate on my writing, I have to be cold (the colder the better – shivering helps!). I’m not sure if it’s because it keeps me awake or on my toes or what. So in the winter, I’ll turn off the heating or lower it considerably. Summer months are tougher for me creatively, haha!

  2. I can’t describe how many poems have opened up, or plot holes have closed up while driving. Open window weather is infamous for me needing a pen and a stop light desperately. Thank God they’ve put recorders on cell phones. 🙂

    • That’s a great idea Shelby, glad to hear you’re not writing and driving 🙂 I used to use a voice activated recorder for ideas I got in my sleep! thanks a lot for commenting, paz, Abby

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