Good day, folks! 🙂 Hope everyone’s been gearing up for (Inter)National Poetry Month! It’s just a few days away, now.
To get you warmed up, in case you’re participating in the April Poem-a-Day Challenge–or any other Poetry-writing event, this Friday’s Reflections post has several references to other poems, books, songs, and related articles! 🙂
Without further ado, this Friday’s topic: memories.
Before my ideas clutter your thoughts, just take a few minutes and brainstorm around the topic “memory”/”memories”:
- list out any words that pop in your head when you think “memory”
- jot down any memories that strike your mind first
- if you want to write about memories as such and their nature (not specific incidents in your life), you could brainstorm through the process of memory-making and remembering, and on how/why these happen
If you have a specific memory in mind already:
- brainstorm note any and all details you can remember, down to names, places, clothes, colors, time of day, season/month, dialogue (if any) and even brand names
- brainstorm as many sensory details as you can with regard to the scene of your memory; if what you’re going to write is going to recall a memory, you can create the scene most effectively by being specific
- try to brainstorm words that capture the mood of the memory
All Kinds of Memories
When we say “memory” we can mean the power of the human mind to save and recollect information. We could also mean Computer Memory: RAM or hard-disk memory…could be a tech-y poem (I’ve written one, it’s quite fun)!
The mémoire (French for memory) is also literary form. It’s not, however, the same as the memoir (the better-known of the two).
Memory poems, and the theme of nostalgia, are amongst my favorite when it comes to writing. I love saving up many keepsakes and little trinkets, and when I go back to them, they almost always invoke a little poetry.
(The word nostalgia always reminds me of Yanni’s piece — this particular medley is all the more evocative.)
Often, these writings are bittersweet, because we’re talking about what’s already passed. Sometimes, they’re downright painful!
Some such famous poems include Lord Tennyson’s Tears, Idle Tears and William Blake’s Memory, hither come.
We talk about cherished memories, painful memories and childhood memories; we talk of short term and long term memory, and even memory loss. Many contemporary stories have protagonists who suffer from memory-loss — either temporary or permanent (think Memento). We talk about how some memories fade, or about how we’re either trying to remember or trying to forget something.
Sometimes, we’re trying to remember something, and it’s on the tip of our tongue, but not quite — a very interesting phenomenon!
We have all kinds of things aiding our memory now — Post-It notes, reminders and alarms, To-Do lists… (potential list poem!) How do you keep track of/remember what has to be done? Do you have a system? Take a look at your system — if you don’t have one, see if any family member you know, or perhaps a friend, does. Observe. How often are these aides…required? A little too often for comfort? Or does the subject perhaps have extremely good memory? (I certainly don’t!) Perhaps photographic memory?
We could remember a person, remember an experience or even an object. We could remember our pasts, remember the people and things we’ve lost. We could even remember a culture — perhaps a dying culture — the remembering of it being its only means of survival.
A poem I wrote several years ago was written from the point of view of a woman who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. I was able to create tension by placing her beside her daughter, whom she did not recognize, and also by filling the scene with items and ideas that were to evoke memories — but only cause the woman pain and confusion instead.
You could also write about recollecting certain memories with someone else who has experienced them. Or perhaps, being unable to do so.
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
― Lois Lowry, The Giver
It’s interesting how photographs used to be so rarely taken once upon a time, and often only in large groups, or in studios — and now we click! thousands of them with mere touches to our smartphones. Many of us still have that nostalgic feeling, though, when we go back to certain photographs we haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes, the memories seem so far away that we wonder if it really happened:
“Was it a dream?
Was it a dream?
Is this the only evidence that proves it,
A photograph of you and I–”
Song: “Was It a Dream?”, 30 Seconds to Mars
One of my personal favorite Memory songs is Memories by Within Temptation, and its lyrics give us an example of the effect one’s memories can have on him/her:
The Mind works how it will
This article on Memories, Photographs, and the Human Brain looks into the working of the human mind and how it captures memories and images.
It’s interesting how we remember things. How much of it is really as Mr. Márquez says?
“He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”
(from Love in the Time of Cholera)
And then there is this lovely bit from Haruki Murakami‘s Kafka on the Shore:
“Most things are forgotten over time … There are just too many things we have to think about everyday, too many new things we have to learn. But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.”
Try to put together the pieces of your brainstorm and flesh out the details of the memory you’ve chosen. Finally: what does it do for the poet persona/writing voice? It could offer some kind of progression or growth. Does it prove cathartic or epiphanic, or provide some sense of closure?
Give some thought into why that particular memory, and what its recollection achieves.
Hope that gave you some food for thought and hopefully helped to write a piece 🙂 Happy writing, folks!