posted on July 25, 2016 by Margo Bond Collins

Poetry Memorization 101

by Margo Bond Collins

In my day job, I, like Sadie Quinn, the heroine of Hot on His Heels, am a college English professor.  And I have always wanted to be one of those English professors who can recite poetry off the top of my head.

Sadie Quinn is one of those professors—but for her, it’s a problem. She remembers poetry all the time, and sometimes can’t stop herself from blurting out lines at inappropriate moments.

When I try to quote poetry, I usually get all tangled up and forget lines and have to stop and look things up. Even worse, the few bits of poetry I do have memorized are generally all wrong for whatever occasions I think might need poetic enhancement.

So today I’m sharing a few guidelines for memorizing poetry, based on my own experiences. Do with these what you will.

  1. Make sure you memorize poems in modern English.

I have bits of Beowulf memorized in Old English, and lines from The Canterbury Tales in Middle English.  I promise, it’s never a good idea at a party to suddenly announce, “Þæt wæs god cyning” (Beowulf) or “a good wif was ther of biside Bathe” (Canterbury Tales).  People just look at you funny.

  1. Be certain to memorize a few happy poems.

Being able to sing Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for death” to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” (or the theme song to Gilligan’s Island) might be mildly entertaining, but at, say, weddings, it’s better not to proclaim, “This is the hour of lead.”

  1. Skip the poetry altogether.

Go for some Jane Austen, instead. Everyone loves Jane Austen, right? “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you”—who doesn’t want to hear that? Still…be careful when and where you drop this line, too. Your own wedding? Great—but only to your betrothed.

What about you? Have any favorite lines from literature? When and where might they be appropriate?

Hot on His Heels
Margo Bond Collins
Release Date: July 18, 2016

HotOnHisHeels_500Sadie Quinn is at the romance readers’ convention for one reason only: to find editor Jocelyn Dellarivier. Which she could do if she didn’t keep running into the most frustrating, gorgeous man ever. To make matters worse, she just won a contest and a date with him is the prize.

Jake Blaine could kill his boss for rigging the contest, but now he’s face to face with the one woman who could expose his alter ego. He’s not about to leave, but he can’t tell Sadie he’s the editor she’s looking for. But even though he’s playing with fire, Jake can’t seem to stay away. And after a night with the raven-haired beauty, he’s not sure he wants to…


“Don’t get distracted,” Amelia said, giving Sadie a gentle push to get her moving again.

Still craning her neck to examine the rows of conference attendees behind her, Sadie tripped over yet another woman’s feet. Her ankle twisted under her, and her arms pinwheeled out to either side. All around her, conference-goers ducked out of the way.

At the last minute she managed to spin around as she made a grab for Amelia, but it was too late to stop herself from landing ass-first in the closest seat.

Unfortunately for her, the chair wasn’t empty, as evidenced by the whoosh of air she knocked out of its inhabitant when she landed on his lap.

Her face scrunched up in embarrassment, she turned a sheepish look toward her not-quite-savior.

And froze.

The man had to be one of the cover models. He was that gorgeous. Dark, silky hair, deep brown eyes, a sensuous mouth curving up in a smirk that suggested he knew exactly the effect he had on women.

He also looked oddly familiar.

Where had she seen him before?

Maybe on one of the covers of the many novels she read while writing first her dissertation, and now this book.

That had to be it. She’d certainly remember if she’d met him in real life.

Beautiful men left her tongue-tied. The brilliant ones she could handle. She knew how to meet them on their own terms, even if their specialties were different from hers. Her last boyfriend had been a professor like her, but with a specialization in biology.

She’d known how to talk to him. That was what mattered, after all—how well they communicated. Physical attraction could develop from intellectual intimacy. It was better that way.

The gorgeous ones were so far out of her realm of experience that she could never figure out what to say. They made her nervous, uncomfortable.

Like now, as they stared at one another.

There’s a reason it’s called being “stunning.”

She definitely felt stunned. “‘Not handsome enough to tempt me,’” she muttered.

Pride and Prejudice,” Amelia said as she leaned around Sadie to smile at Mr. Beautiful. “Hi. Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to push her quite so hard.”

“No problem.” His voice was smooth, sliding across Sadie’s skin like a caress. It wasn’t fair. No one should be that attractive and also sound like an audiobook narrator.

I wonder how he tastes.

With a tiny shake of her head, she dispelled the thought. It wasn’t like her at all. When Sadie fantasized, it was usually about tenure, not sex.

Quit it, Sadie. You’re here to do a job, not to fantasize about random romance-novel cover models.

And definitely not sit in their laps.


Margo Bond Collins

Margo Bond Collins

Although she's been spinning stories her entire life, the first tale Margo Bond Collins specifically remembers writing down was Wizard of Oz fan-fiction when she was seven--and it included a romance between Dorothy and the Wizard. That one was never published (for which she is eternally thankful), but Margo has been writing ever since. Along the way, she picked up a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature--mostly because graduate school allowed her to keep reading and writing for a living. Her study of the period's amatory fiction (arguably the earliest form of category romance) influences her own romantic fiction. She currently teaches college English courses online, but writing fiction is her first love. After a decade of moving all around the country (Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta are a few of the places she's lived), she has settled in her native Texas. Margo lives near Fort Worth with her husband, her daughter, and several very spoiled cats, and she spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them.

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