Take a look at this article from the June 14 New York Times about the new Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith is the New Poet Laureate, in the June 14, 2017 New York Times. It’s an important yet not-political story, a piece of upbeat but also substantive news.
Two things about it caught my attention.
Near the beginning of the article Ms. Smith is reported as saying that a poem by Emily Dickinson she read in fifth grade so moved her she “could not help but memorize it.” I have written a lot in this blog about memorizing poems (I’ve memorized nearly 70). More than ever I believe in, and have experienced the mood-lifting, brain-stretching benefits of, memorizing poems. I like the image of a poem speaking to a person so powerfully that the person is compelled to memorize it. I have experienced this, relating so strongly to the meter or message or images of a poem that memorizing it became an urgent, joyful, task.
I also like that Ms. Smith, in her new role, sees herself as a sort of evangelist for all things literary. That is one way I could describe my goal with this blog: promoting, talking up, encouraging literary behaviors small or large, from writing a sentence a day, to hosting a literary event, to various forms of word play, and much, much more.
In a world where it’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed with what seems like a torrent of bad news, sprinkling a little literary in your life, like memorizing a poem, might be just what it takes to help you maintain your emotional and intellectual equilibrium.