I’m starting to memorize (or re-memorize depending) poems fromĀ The Bones of Us. I’ve got two down so far, and by the time next February rolls around, I may have most of the collection memorized.

In lit world, I’m the oddity for performing memorized work. Other readers ask me how I can memorize poems or flash fiction. I can tell you how in three to four days (and the defunct Idiot’s Guide to Slam Poetry provided this invaluable advise originally).

Day 1: Read the poem aloud several times throughout the day/night.

Day 2: Read the poem a few times aloud before turning the paper/cellphone face down. Perform. If you make a mistake, start again. Repeat until you have performed it perfectly once. Practice throughout the day/night..

Day 3: Perform your poem while doing other things, like taking out the garbage or jogging or washing the dishes. Look at the poem if necessary. If you keep messing up a line or a stanza, you may want to consider editing it. Practice throughout the day/night.

Day 4: Perform your poem while doing other things, through the day or night.

Day 5+: Practice whenever, doing whatever.

I take an additional step in performing something against a very loud piece of music. It helps my concentration when I am in a live environment and weird stuff happens I keep performing the poem. Here’s one song I’ve listened to while rehearsing:

I treat readings like a concert. I want cause people to react a certain way and paper/phone/tablet creates a barrier between the performer and the audience. At the same time, I can see how the paper/phone/tablet acts as a balance pole in the great void of public speaking.

I’m also working on the long talked about, slowly worked on Jesus Christ, Boy Detective origin novel/novella. Two chapters into the edits. I’m also writing side stories that will help the novel/novella, as I do when I want to get away from the novel. I have figured out most of the universe. I just have to keep chipping away at it bit by bit. I have time.

Last Saturday makes it six months that I took a new position and moved to Seminole County. I like my position a lot. I get to write every day, and occasionally train in the field. I am not a fan of Seminole County. There’s too much sprawl. While there is a taproom two miles from my house that has delicious beer, I am a whiskey drinker. It has been a little isolating (which has given me more time to write, but still). I know this is temporary exile. If certain transportation efforts go through, it will make life a lot easier. For now I have to deal with it and the consequences of being too cheap and terrified to drive.


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About J. Bradley

J. Bradley's is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at iheartfailure.net.

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