One of my proudest Verse-based moments of my life, occurred in Blackrock, Co Dublin. During a reading to children, I was approached by three young girls and told very proudly that the class had learned to read together, ‘Christmas In July’ a poem of mine.
When it came time for me to read this verse I decided to turn it over to them, and get them to read it. To hear my own words read back to me from 30, or so, loud, but young, voices was a wonderful experience and it might have brought a tear to my eye if it wasn’t for this macho image I insist on maintaining and portraying to the world. I was even willing to allow the class to falter on the last two lines, which most seemed to, I was that impressed and pleased, but this was more than one of the young girls, who had told me originally about their learning of the poem, was going to allow them to do. She seemed quite appalled at her faltering fellow classmates and, hands on hips, said the last two lines with more conviction because of it.
I was reminded of this event when viewing the following article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/5369739/More-poetry---please.html
This article deals with the importance of learning verse from heart, and I will be honest it is something I have never thought of before.
I know that my own schooling on poetry was exceptionally weak, the only thing I remember was seeing a television programme that contained Roger McGough and Michael Rosen, two men who I am still in awe of today and after this programme we were told that poetry can rhyme but it doesn’t have to and being asked to write two poems one that did rhyme and one that didn’t. That was the extent of my poetic schooling. Stephen Fry dedicates ‘The Ode Less Travelled’ to a teacher who helped awake his mind to the wonderfulness of poesy… I can honestly say that not one of my teachers will ever get a book dedicated to them.
We were certainly never told, or taught, to learn verse off by heart and it appears that this is still true, according to this article.
I’m not sure how this can be, when there are more organisations, festivals that include young people and push from the media these days then when I was young, but I agree with this article, something still needs to be done.
I travel up and down the Ireland, reading my poems and singing my songs, but only at certain times of the year, ‘Poetry Ireland’ The organisation who are there, apparently, to promote poetry in Ireland does not want me to be part of their ‘writers in schools’ initiative, so roll on the various festivals I’m involved in.
Learn poetry by heart, a wonderful idea, in fact…
Buy my book, learn all the poems so you can read them by heart and as the book is no longer is needed as a book, it can be used as a fan to keep you cool in the, hopefully, upcoming hot weather.
Hear is a video of me reading the poem mentioned above off by heart.