January 28, 2013
Poetry By Heart
United Kingdom's Department for Education is funding a nationwide poetry-reciting contest that asks kids to spend some time lingering over a poem. Long enough to learn it by heart.
The program is called "Poetry By Heart" and it is similar to the American "Poetry Out Loud" program.
At a county level, students memorize two poems from a list of 130and recite the poems by heart in a series of competitions. Their website has a nice selection of poems that are well known and not so well known - especially for American audiences.
The interview I heard said that the intent was to learn them "by heart, not by rote." They define that as meaning "that if you learn by heart it means you take the poem right into yourself, it becomes part of you. And it remains with you, probably for the rest of your life."
A difficult distinction to impress upon a young person. But hurrah for the trying.
Interview: Jean Sprackland, "Poetry By Heart" Contest via NPR