From The Guardian:
Nick Seddon has agreed to learn 100 poems in a year. Which would you recommend?
When this summer I accepted the madcap challenge to learn 100 poems in a year, I certainly didn’t imagine it would be a life-changing experience. Indeed, having never attempted anything remotely like this before – I got all the way through school and university without learning a single poem – I’m not really sure what I expected at all.
OK, I’ll admit I rather liked the idea of taking poems into my mind as one might pluck apples from a tree, a sort of intellectual kleptomania. And because it was conceived of as a race, I guess there was also a tinge of macho competitiveness. And yes, I suppose it did cross my mind that reciting poetry would be a sly way to seduce the ladies.
But those shady motives feel rather redundant now. Six months ago a friend and I drew up a list of our favourite poems and having been going strong ever since. I am half way through, but I’m no longer doing this simply because I want to reach the end point. It’s been all about falling in love with poetry again, and discovering it as if for the first time. Right from the start I have found that memorizing revives things that have become stale or deadened.