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There’s been some talk about memorizing things in a comment thread here and it made me think of how little I’ve actually memorized. What are some things some things you’ve committed to memory?

  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

7 thoughts on “Memorization?

  1. Had to: Tomorrow Speech in Macbeth, Opening Prologue of the Canterbury Tales and opening incantation to the muse in Paradise Lost.

    Didn’t have to: Sonnet 116, “Mock Orange” – Louise Gluck, beginning of Lucky’s diatribe in ‘Waiting for Godot’

    1. Van Morrison’s ‘And it Stoned Me’ and Magnetic Fields’ – ‘I Don’t Want to Get Over You’:

      I don’t want to get over you. I guess I could take
      a sleeping pill and sleep at will and not have to
      go through what I go through. I guess I should take
      Prozac, right, and just smile all night at somebody new,
      Somebody not too bright but sweet and kind who would
      try to get you off my mind. I could leave this agony behind
      which is just what I’d do if I wanted to, but I don’t
      want to get over you cause I don’t want to get over love.
      I could listen to my therapist, pretend you don’t exist
      and not have to dream of what I dream of; I could listen
      to all my friends and go out again and pretend it’s enough,
      or I could make a career of being blue–I could dress
      in black and read Camus, smoke clove cigarettes and drink
      vermouth like I was 17 that would be a scream but I
      don’t want to get over you.

    1. There was a thread on Bark the other day about memorization and I wrote a comment about memorized song lyrics. I have hundreds of them locked away. It’s whack; I’ll hear a song I’ve not heard since highschool and can still sing along.

  2. In middle school when I hated poetry, I got away with “cheating” a poem memorization assignment by memorizing Sandburg’s “Fog.” Had I known better then, I should have memorized “In a Station of the Metro,” but that’s what I get for hating poetry then.

    I do far too little memorizing of things.

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