Do You Have A Poem Committed to Memory? Join us for the Remembered Poetry Slam!

 
 A man on stage. Photo by  Fatih Kılıç  on  Unsplash

A man on stage. Photo by Fatih Kılıç on Unsplash

Drum roll…the curtains open: welcome to the launch of the first ever Remembered Poetry Slam! I’ve been thinking about this idea for some time. Then, as if directed by some untapped chutzpah, the idea migrated from my head through my fingers to the keyboard, and out into the weberness! Remembered Poetry Slam is in motion. Go!

 

The premise is simple. Create a video of you or someone else reciting a poem that has been committed to memory. It starts NOW through November 29. Name the poem, the poet and approximately when you memorized it – then share it to the Storied Gifts Facebook page with the hashtag #rememberedpoetryslam. All submissions will be watched and judged based on the delivery of the poem. The winner will be named, and a donation will be made on their behalf to the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

 

ADVENTURE AND PREP

I’ll be honest, launching the Remembered Poetry Slam feels perilous for me. I love the idea but the execution is a bit daunting. It requires reach, lots of asking, inviting, (Yo Drama Group!) learning and of course risk. Will people find the event? Will it resonate? Will they act on it? But I love the idea of people sharing memorized poems so much, that I’m taking on the challenge. Life is an adventure after all. 

So this past week I contacted the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association because they serve those who suffer with the loss of memory. The Iowa Chapter folks were excited about the idea (Thank you!) and want to see the event take flight.

I messaged TONS of organizers of poetry related Meetup groups, (thanks Meetup – such a great platform!). Also a few teachers (how do you reach teachers en mass?) and some local drama groups. I even messaged a few celebs including Ashton Kutcher and Jamie Lee Curtis. You never know!

AN EXAMPLE AND SOME INSPIRATION

Though not a poetry expert I am an enthusiast who appreciates recited poetry. My limited repertoire includes only some Ogden Nash ditties, so I turned to the internet for examples, and discovered the “Poetry Out Loud Organization.” Exuberant, talented young people eloquently sharing poetry. What a great thing! This example by student Whitney Baxter is of her reciting [I carry your heart with me (I carry it in] by e. e. cummings.

 

WHY REMEMBERED POETRY?

Poetry transcends, conjuring up emotion and insight. And poetry spoken to others takes us from our small place to a larger shared experience. Through structure and word curation we are transported to a greater understanding.

Perhaps that’s why for many, poems are forever wedged in their catalog of memories. They get to carry beautiful art in their mental pocket.

Over time, a poem memorized as a child may become richer with meaning for the person who keeps it. And when spoken years later, their voice rises to the poetic phrases they’ve kept for years. There in the acoustics of spoken poetic words there is magic.

In the news these days we are constantly reminded of our fragility, and the impermanence of “things” that we gather for comfort. The keepsakes from our past can be easily lost in a flood or fire.  Amid so much devastation many have lost their day-to-day sanctuaries, along with the photos and memorabilia that document their past. But the mind can live on, and memorized poems are a window into the marvel of the brain.

It is amazing that in the card catalog of memories we can jumble up time and events, but still pull up a piece of beautiful art just lingering in our recall. Your memories are your story, and there is still story to come.  You are here and that is no small thing. In fact, that is EVERYTHING.

BE GRATEFUL, REMEMBER AND SHARE!

At this time of Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll take some time to query, recite and record poems you’ve memorized, and of course share them with us for this first #rememberedpoetryslam on our Storied Gifts Facebook page. I guarantee there will be discussion, joy and discovery. 

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!