In the run-up to National Poetry Day on the 2nd of October, Cambridge University are running a project entitled ‘Poetry and Memory’ to find out which poems are stored in the nation’s collective consciousness.
As History students will know, poetry recitation was emphasized far greater in the early 20th century curriculum than it has been since, and so the project seeks to find poems which have emerged in the nation’s memory without them being proscribed through education. Project advisor, former poet laureate Andrew Motion, comments that “the poems we commit to memory stay with us forever, and grow as we grow”, and as such, finding out which poems we know by heart can tell us something about which poetry we connect to most.
Projects like this are helpful for tapping into what speaks to use most as a nation, much in the same way we can measure consumption patterns to tell us about any historically constructed group. PPE applicants will be familiar with viewing how consumption patterns of everything from movies to coffee to rice tell us something about the economy and social relations of a given society.
The outcome of this project is sure to show English applicants how the nation’s taste in poetry similarly says something about our modern age.