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Whitman, Alabama

8 Sep

I was alerted to this project by this review in The New York Times of two recently discovered books by Walt Whitman

It seems in keeping with the spirit of Whitman’s poetry:

Basil RathBone reads The Raven

31 May

I owned this record as a kid and was pleased to find it on Youtube. To me, it remains the definitive interpretation of Poe’s most famous work.



The mathematician Michael Keith wrote a version of The Raven that encodes 740 digits of pi and can be found here.

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Charles Simic on books, words, and memory

28 Feb

From The New York Review of Books blog:

“There is nothing more mysterious and wonderful than the way in which some bit of language—a clever quip, a pithy observation, a vivid figure of speech found in a book or heard in a conversation—remains fresh in our memory when so many other things we were at one time interested in are forgotten. These days, I look in disbelief at many of the books on my shelves, from thick novels and memoirs to works of great philosophers, wondering whether it’s really possible that I devoted weeks or even months reading them. I know that I did, but only because opening them, I find passages and phrases I’ve underlined, which upon rereading I recall better than the plots, characters, and ideas I encountered in these books; sometimes it looks to me that what has made the lasting impression on my literary taste buds, to use culinary terms, are crumbs strewn on the table rather than the whole meal.”

Read the rest here.

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Three year old recites Billy Collins’ poem from memory

23 Oct

I heard about this on the Dianne Rehm show.

Here are the details.

Billy Collins and Paul Simon at Chautauqua

17 Aug

Last night, Billy Collins and Paul Simon appeared together in conversation at the Chautauqua Institution amphitheater.

The Institution did not allow photography, so I give you this video of Billy Collins reading three poems, including the memory relevant “Forgetfulness”:

David Rakoff

5 Aug

In yesterday’s New York Times Paul Rudnick described this video of David Rakoff as “essential.”

I agree:

Jim Holt on memorizing poetry

27 Jun

Jim Holt was supposed to speak at Chautauqua this week. To my great disappointment, his flight was canceled and he was unable to make it. I have been reading him since he wrote for the late great Lingua Franca and I was looking forward to hearing him talk.

Several years ago, Holt wrote an article for the New York Times making the case for memorizing poetry, a clarion call for learning poetry by heart.

My favorite poem is The Layers by Stanley Kunitz.

Readers are invited to share their favorite poems in the comment section.

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