The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 26, 2010

The Art of Recitation

For those of you in Washington D.C. we recommend checking out the National Recitation Contest, currently underway at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium. The contest, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and the NEA, showcases high school students with an often unremarked talent. It's not slam poetry, it's not a monologue, and it's not debate.

I remember a friend in eleventh grade memorizing Shakespeare's "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" speech from Julius Caesar. The stunt seemed to me an act of extraordinary skill. Perhaps this is because my own recitation skills end at phone numbers (forget area codes). Even today I think the only work I've memorized would be Pound's "In the Station of the Metro," which doesn't really count. So I put the question to our readers: is there a poem you've memorized, or would like to? 

You can watch video of last year's finalists here, and learn more about the 2010 competition here.

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Comments

lynelle

My dad, now 80, recited a poem about "a cowboy and how he used his bandana" in grade school. He thought the title was probably "Bandana".He has an excellent memory, yet cannot remember this poem and said he would love to find it. Any recommendations on how I might do that for him?

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