PLEDGE NOW
The Poetry in Your Head
Into the valley of death...

A detail from the manuscript of Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" (Univ. of Virginia). Click on the image to see the full page.

In the era of the iPod, Americans can have anything they like, anytime, in their ears: hot music, the news, this show.

Jim Holt knows that, says it’s fine, but he’s stumping for something more. Something ancient. Something so old it’s new again: memorizing poetry.

He does it, all the time. He knows it may seem eccentric. Try it, he says, it’s a joy. A line or two a day, he says, and soon enough we’ve got a sweet gusher inside.

Jim Holt (Photo: Chris Kallen)

Jim Holt (Photo: Chris Kallen)

“She walks in beauty like the night.” “By this still hearth, among these barren crags.” Tennyson. Byron. Slam. It’s good for the heart and head, he says. Body and soul.

This hour, On Point: The poems we know by heart, and the unique pleasure of reciting from memory.

You can join the conversation. Have you tried it? What’s it do for you? Do you know a favorite poem by heart? Let’s hear it. Right here. Right now.

Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from New York is Jim Holt. He writes about science, humor, and philosophy for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere. His recent essay “Got Poetry?” — about how and why he memorizes poems — appeared in The New York Times Book Review.

And from Hanover, N.H., we’re joined by Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic.

A call to listeners:

We’re hoping you’ll bring your own favorites to the party. If you have a great poem you want to recite, from memory (no cheating!), then let’s hear it — call in this morning between 11am and noon Eastern, at 1-800-423-8255, and we’ll try to get you on.

And if you’ve got audio and/or video of yourself reciting poetry (from memory, not reading off the page), post the URL(s) in the comments section here.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A deadly shooting on live TV. Wall Street’s roller coaster ride. Biden considers a White House bid. 10 years since Katrina.

Aug 28, 2015
Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

A legendary natural sound collector shares his recordings. We’ll listen in.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 27, 2015
Amy Seek's memoir is "God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother"

Open adoption. How one birth mother gave up her child for adoption and stayed in his life.

 
Aug 27, 2015
The slow-going struggle for mental health parity (Getty Images)

Insurance companies are required by law to cover mental health the same as physical health. So why don’t they?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 28, 2015
Friday, Aug 28, 2015

You say #hashtag, we say, #forwhat? That, plus Usain Bolt and the ominous lurking Segway cameraman. Friday!

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: August 21, 2015
Friday, Aug 21, 2015

Do you even click? (And other reflections on link sharing and web commenting).

More »
6 Comments
 
Do You Recognize Amazon’s Workplace Culture? Tell Us!
Tuesday, Aug 18, 2015

Do you recognize the workplace conditions described in a recent New York Times piece on Amazon? We want to hear from you!

More »
5 Comments