Recitation Fridays: Sounding Modernism

In this age of instant access to information, recitation can seem downright cobwebby. That’s partly what I like about it, and there’s no replacement for having the words of a poem in your head, and feeling the words in your mouth. Until they develop the technology to install poetry chips in our brains, our only option is to memorize.  The Ancient Greeks had reason enough for making it a primary part of their rhetorical theory, so we might as well keep the dream of memory alive.

Early in the semester, I will pass out a sign-up sheet for recitations.  You must memorize at least 14 lines–the size of a sonnet (this could be two shorter poems, or a section from a longer poem).   Once I’ve collected your preferences, I will post the reading schedule below and also add it to our daily schedule.  You will be graded on two fundamental areas: fundamentals (the reciter has memorized the poem and recited it accurately with no need for external aid) and flair (the reciter is properly dramatic, paying attention to volume, pace, and intonation, and overall presence).  Please visit the Poetry Foundation’s tips on poetry recitation.  It is an art.