poetry and hiking

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At Backpacker, Nick Davidson has a good short essay called  Reciting Poetry on the Trail: You don’t need to be an English major to make poetry part of your next hike.  He writes of how “poetry, spoken in the firelight and woven with the rippling river and yips of coyotes, felt primal and ancient. We’d tapped into that timeworn, disused tradition of oral storytelling surrounded by the stars and scrublands.”

“But how to remember enough lines for a three-hour hike? Turns out being in the wilderness is a powerful memorization tool. Being in nature, studies show, enhances memory because it doesn’t divide our attention in the same way as urban distractions like car horns and oncoming traffic. All I needed was to choose any hike and transform it into a ‘memory palace’ by mentally pairing lines and verses with vivid spots along the way. I didn’t even need to be on the path to make this memorization technique work—as long as I’d hiked it before, I could recall the scenery. Through visualization, I’d set the action of a given line in one of those memorable spots. Imagery locked in, poem and hike became one.”

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