How to Memorize Poetry?

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#1 8 December, 2012 - 17:28
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How to Memorize Poetry?


This thread is for compiling methods on how to memorize poetry.

I've experimented with several methods, and ended up combining repetition with mnemonic images. It was slowing me down to create memory palaces for every poem. I think that I would use a memory palace for a longer poem though.

What methods do you use to memorize poetry?

See also: How to Memorize Poetry (Feel free to edit the wiki page and add more ideas.)

25 December, 2012 - 13:38
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Hi Josh!

I'm so glad you posted this question. Trying to find effective techniques to memorise poetry is the main reason why I joined this forum. Since 2005, I have used only one technique: the good old fashioned repetition. I have focussed on Shakespeare. The main problem I found with repetition is that it is taking a long time. For example, memorising a sonnet can take me upto two weeks. This can be demoralising.

After reading Josh Foer's Moonwalking With Elephants this year, I tried the Memory Palace technique. I love this tool. However, I'm struggling as I don't know enough buildings to use as potential memory palaces.

So, here is where members of this forum might chime in!

Josh, what poems are you trying to memorise? How do you choose? And what are your reasons for trying to commit poems to memory?

25 December, 2012 - 19:03
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I'm interested in things like Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Keats, Shelly, etc. I've been finding that I'm only interested in poems in iambic pentameter for some reason. I'll probably do that for a while longer before trying something else. :)

I'm currently reading The Tempest (in color) and The Faerie Queene, but I'm not memorizing them.

I also did try memorizing some of Beowulf in Old English, which was interesting. If I ever have time, I will do more of that. Another exception was memorizing the first page of Chapman's Iliad, which I still need to finish reading.

Lately, I tend to use repetition along with mnemonic images. I posted a link to some tips in your other thread:
How successful is the Memory Palace technique with memorising poems?

Maybe we could do an online Google Plus Hangout (webcam chat) about memorizing poetry soon. We could choose a sonnet, discuss ideas about how to memorize it, spend about 20 minutes quietly memorizing it, and then check in again afterwards to trade tips.

27 December, 2012 - 14:55
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Hi Josh!

Thanks for that response.

Josh Cohen wrote:

Maybe we could do an online Google Plus Hangout (webcam chat) about memorizing poetry soon. We could choose a sonnet, discuss ideas about how to memorize it, spend about 20 minutes quietly memorizing it, and then check in again afterwards to trade tips.

Yes, this is is a good idea. I wonder what you think of the following strategy. Before I memorise any new sonnets or a chunk of Hamlet, I want to have a list of at least ten Memory Palaces. Then, when we have our Google Plus Hangout or Skype, we would be more productive. I remember a passage from Moonwalking With Einstein where Joshua Foer writes about spending time coming up with many Memory Palaces as preparation for his big competitions.

PS: I haven't yet gone on to Google Plus! But that's not really a major issue!

27 December, 2012 - 21:40
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You can even create the memory palace on the spot, in the room that you are sitting in. I've memorized some poems while using the surrounding environment. It can't hurt to prepare though... :)

5 January, 2013 - 17:15
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Does anyone know what the poetry in the American competitions is like? How long would a poem be, and are there good, representative examples to look at? I know there is that "WHERE DO BALLOONS GO?" poem on the website, but it seems a little short for 15 minutes. They didn't use that one, did they?

5 January, 2013 - 23:45
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I'm not sure. I haven't seen any other examples online...

11 January, 2013 - 19:05
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How is this section scored in the US? I have no gauge of what those scores on usamemochamp mean...
In another thread you mentioned how to score names and faces -[ fourth root of (constant/raw)]^3. (Or[c/r]^.75 depending on what notation you like). Is this consistent with scoring in America?
Thanks Josh!

12 January, 2013 - 09:35
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I'm not sure exactly how it is scored...

22 January, 2013 - 22:47
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Here's the method I use most often:
http://jjhayes.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Memorize-A-Poem

It's not so much a competition method, but very effective for retaining poetry over the long term.

I even turned the process into a free web app called Verbatim:
http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/23420016/Verbatim2.html

23 January, 2013 - 08:31
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I guess it's not that bad, but I wonder if it'll help over longer periods of time. I am planning on memorizing Medea because it's needed for school (not all of it, just about 600 lines) so I don't know for sure if I should use your method of the Loci method.

23 January, 2013 - 21:02
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The longest poem I've memorized with the JJ Hayes approach is Poe's "The Raven", at 108 lines.

For long term storage, regular practice is key, but that's going to be true of any method. The thing I like about this approach is that there's nothing but the poem itself in your memory. To me, this gives it a pure quality that I haven't found in other methods.

Ultimately, it's like any other memory method. Do you find it effective and does it work for you personally? If so, keep using it. If not, stop using it.

3 September, 2013 - 02:31
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The link to tinyurl gets a Comodo WARNING: Spyware, Mobile, Hacking, Operating System

4 September, 2013 - 02:45
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zapatronic wrote:

The link to tinyurl gets a Comodo WARNING: Spyware, Mobile, Hacking, Operating System

According to TrueURL.net, it redirects to http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23420016/Verbatim2.html

11 November, 2013 - 02:00
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I have images for about 150 common words, including articles, pronouns, and prepositions.

Also, I have images for some (about 25 for now) combinations of words that are very common, such as "in all the" and "in every" and "and all of."

I have images for punctuation marks. My method for poetry is verbatim memorization of the poem by having every part of the poem encoded into imagery, just like random words, or anything else for that matter. I do it this way because if I try to just remember sections of the poem "traditionally," there are always errors, and there's no way to predict where those errors will be, or how many, and there is *nothing* specific to work on and get better at that will keep it from happening.
But I wish there were more posts in this thread, because I really don't think my way is the best way - even for me.

16 September, 2014 - 09:21
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Hi Lociln,

You get to be the first person I've virtually spoken with since I joined this site last night.

I read about a memory champ who also has hundred of mnemonics for common words in Foer's book, but he didn't share any of them and I couldn't find them. I don't how I should approach making my own. Would you mind sharing at least some of those 150 images? I would be grateful, as I'm sure other aspiring memonists would, too.

Cheers,
David

16 September, 2014 - 09:57
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I'd be also interested in your images, LociIn. I'd be also very grateful. :)

Best regards,

Zapatronic.

10 October, 2014 - 11:09
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ShakeSphere wrote:

After reading Josh Foer's Moonwalking With Elephants this year, I tried the Memory Palace technique. I love this tool. However, I'm struggling as I don't know enough buildings to use as potential memory palaces.

...Elephants? Perhaps you'd remember more if you laid off the pipe...

I've found I can re-use memory palaces in different contexts--even for different shopping lists--because each fresh palace is a new palace. I can remember Ben Pridmore's shopping list in the same mind palace as my own shopping list--but these are two distinct instances, and they don't blend. The palaces are self-contextualizing.

I think these stand separate because I don't clean my mind palaces out. I don't go back to the same place, survey the objects, and then try to blank them; I simply recall the same place to start over, and begin placing things. There is a memory of the other one, but I don't try to tear out the object in my way; instead, I see the place as it is, empty, and start fresh. This is like remembering when an object was in a room, or wasn't in a room, as two different events; I may be leveraging my episodic memory along with my visual memory to recall different episodes of the same location.

That doesn't mean you can go reusing the same room again and again to store a whole poem: how are you going to differentiate? How do you get to the next stanza? The Link system?

Finally, I'm not sure there's anything about using the mind palace to memorize poetry. Myself, I'd try to remember the story and attach structure, and use that to found recitation (rote).

27 April, 2015 - 23:30
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Hi Lociln,

You get to be the first person I've virtually spoken with since I joined this site last night.

I read about a memory champ who also has hundred of mnemonics for common words in Foer's book, but he didn't share any of them and I couldn't find them. I don't how I should approach making my own. Would you mind sharing at least some of those 150 images? I would be grateful, as I'm sure other aspiring memonists would, too.

I am very interested in this too, has anyone have any good advice on how to start?

7 May, 2015 - 02:04
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Hi....
I'm using the memory palace to memorize a poetry ... how?
I WILL TELL YOU HOW!!!
firstly: I read it so quickly to understand the lines...
secondly: every line consist of two parts >> so I'm gonna to take from the two parts 2 symbols and put them into the first point in my memory palace...
thirdly:if this was a memory challenges this step will be no necessary because this step you make a revision to take what you saved into the long memory...

I wished that will help you
Badr,
khartoum,

18 January, 2017 - 09:29
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Hello,

I use a method called IGMP. Today I wrote a blog post with an updated version of IGMP. You can read it here: Updated Version Of IGMP method

This is by far the best method I could come with and if there is a photographic memory IGMP is one step before photographic memory. (By photographic meaning, memorizing really easily and fast, very long texts).

SKard

18 February, 2017 - 08:18
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I love knowing poems. A great one for memorizers is: If the World was Crazy by Shel SIlverstein. It has so many images and silliness.

I have memorized poems by linking one image to the next one but find that a memory palace creates more lasting images. So now I only use palaces.

Step 1: break the poem into small sections.
Step 2: identify a key word or words in each line
Step 3: Test yourself. Can you recite the whole poem from only seeing the list of key words? This is the only real memorizing you will need to do/
Step 4: Select images (what I call Reminder Images) for each key word
Step 5: Having chosen a Memory Palace for this poem, now link the palace items (loci) to each of the reminder images. Bingo, the poem is remembered.
Tip: No need to do the linking in any particular order. I start with the easiest ones. Regardless of the order in which you do the linking, once done, the palace itself will order the lines for you.

Snowball by Shel Silverstein - I teach my students to memorize this poem with a palace
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away
But first it wet the bed.

18 February, 2017 - 09:17
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I love knowing poems. A great one for memorizers is: If the World was Crazy by Shel SIlverstein. It has so many images and silliness.

I have memorized poems by linking one image to the next one but find that a memory palace creates more lasting images. So now I only use palaces.

Step 1: break the poem into small sections.
Step 2: identify a key word or words in each line
Step 3: Test yourself. Can you recite the whole poem from only seeing the list of key words? This is the only real memorizing you will need to do/
Step 4: Select images (what I call Reminder Images) for each key word
Step 5: Having chosen a Memory Palace for this poem, now link the palace items (loci) to each of the reminder images. Bingo, the poem is remembered.
Tip: No need to do the linking in any particular order. I start with the easiest ones. Regardless of the order in which you do the linking, once done, the palace itself will order the lines for you.

Snowball by Shel Silverstein - I teach my students to memorize this poem with a palace
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away
But first it wet the bed.

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