Memorizing Poetry

by Matthew Koslowski on November 25, 2009
in Essays

In This Essay

Complete Poems of John Keats
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Speaking of Faith: Learning, Doing, Being: A New Science of Education

In college I resolved to memorize Paradise Lost.

Not just “The Invocation to the Muse,” the first twenty-six lines. The entire work. All twelve books.

My inspiration came in part from watching The Crow. One of the villains, T-Bird, picks up a book and reads, “Abashed the Devil stood and felt how awful goodness is, and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely…” Wondering if he were reading from a real book, I searched Google and found that quote comes from Book IV of Paradise Lost.

I developed a plan, in fact, to memorize the poem. After letting this grandiose idea overtake me, I sat down with a copy of the poem and determined how many lines were in each book. Then adding them up, I figured how long it would commit to memory if I memorized a fixed number — I believe it was ten lines — per day. It was a project that was going to take years of dedicated work.

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Weekly Reviews on Hold until December

I’ve been working on my application for the Boston Teacher Residency program. The deadline for early admission is December 1st, 2009. So, for the next ten days, I’ll be refining my application essays and resumes.

I’ll pick up the Weekly Reviews again after I’m sure that my application is complete.


Matthew Koslowski

On Dying Young

by Matthew Koslowski on November 18, 2009
in Anecdotes

As I have written before, I aspire to be a novelist.

But that desire to be a novelist does not come without a number of uncertainties and fears. Looking at the papers, it is not difficult to come across an article bemoaning the state of the publishing business or another article bemoaning the state of the American reader. Stories circulate within writers communities about the difficulties of finding first an agent and then a publisher. The story is so well known that it even appeared in the movie Sideways as the special lot of writers.

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Weekly Review: November 6th to November 12th

I have implemented the first stage of my strategy, using a feed reader to manage my feeds. Consolidating all of the different streams of information down so that I just have to deal with the one website each day has been a blessing. I am still tinkering with this aspect of the strategy: I am thinking of moving to an offline feed reader because I’m not sure how long Reader saves all the posts I highlight with a star.

I failed this week to implement the second stage of my strategy, writing a little bit of the Weekly Review each day instead of all at once. There is always tomorrow to begin the Weekly Review: November 13th to November 19th!

Want to Learn Poetry from Matthew Koslowski?

I am developing a one session course to introduce adults to reading poetry for pleasure. The tentative title is, “Bawdy&Body: An Introduction to Poetry for Adults.” If you live in eastern Massachusetts, or around here, and would be interested in attending such a course, contact me.

These Things Caught My Eye

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Every Angel is Terrifying

by Matthew Koslowski on November 11, 2009
in Anecdotes

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’
–Rainer Maria Rilke, “The First Elegy” from The Duino Elegies (Stephen Mitchell, trans.)

Saturday evening I felt overwhelmed.

My problems are not major. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, friends to pass time with, and a job. Though, in this economy, who can be sure of their job security? If this recession has done one thing, I hope that is has realigned people’s values to those things that truly matter. But my problems still distract me.

The Devil on my shoulder asks, “What have you got to complain about?” I start belittling myself and try to bury my problems. But some part of me remembers this piece of simple wisdom:

In the bottom of your shoe, even a small pebble is bigger than the whole world.

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