The Memory Palace is an ancient technique meant to help people remember. Here’s how it works: Imagine a house with rooms. Imagine yourself walking through those rooms; memorize what they look like. Now put things you want to remember in these rooms—the first few sentences of a speech on the front steps, the next few sentences in the closet in the front hallway. Then, when you want to remember your speech, imagine yourself walking through your Memory Palace.
When Badgerdog brought Ms. Hertz’s fourth grade class from Bluebonnet Trail Elementary to the Blanton Museum of Art to see the El Anatsui exhibit, their teaching-artist, Jeff Pethybridge, encouraged them to creatively respond to the artist’s work. Symphanie, one of Ms. Hertz’s talented young poets, wrote in response to El Anatsui’s “Chambers of Memory”; her poem of the same name does so many things at once. It walks us through her experience of the exhibit, in a way creating her own Memory Palace in response to “Chambers of Memory,” and it reminds us of the kinds of things we keep in our own—smells, history, colors, things that might still be sweet, and the memory of too many memories.
Chambers of Memory
Wood and sand of a forest
burning to the ground
and the pain they felt
from the blowing fire all around.
Many layers of boxes of rooms
that have holes and tiers
of too many memories.
A big cloud of colored wrappers sewn
together, maybe still sweet with colors.
Things that are floating around like a fly to be colorful of color food.
Symphanie, fourth grade, Bluebonnet Trail Elementary School