Home » Stuff About Me » Starting a Commonplace Book

Starting a Commonplace Book

April 30.  How did it happen that we’re here already?  Very crazy.

I was trying to figure out a way to honor the last day of Poetry Month and was reading 30 things to do in Poetry Month.  One of the things to do was to start a ‘commonplace book.’ It sounds exactly like what we did in high school and that I have done every now and then ever since.

Commonplace book

Commonplace book (Photo credit: vlasta2)

I have owned many blank books over the years to collect words inside.  To-do lists or other kinds of lists (40 things to do before 40 or the Man o’ My Dreams list), favorite quotes or paragraphs from books, ideas of things to try or read or watch or do. Once I kept track of random overheard conversations of strangers.  What fun that was!

So I’m inspired to find a small book to write snippets in again.

Below is the information from poets.org.  Visit the site for lots of inspirational ideas!

Start a Commonplace Book:

Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called “commonplace books.” These collections can be a source of enjoyment and solace, reminding the keeper of favorite books and poems, and can even become family heirlooms. You may devote a corner of a regular journal to jotting down quotes or poems that strike your fancy or obtain a blank book just for this purpose.

As Max W. Thomas says in “Reading and Writing the Renaissance Commonplace Book: A Question of Authorship?”, “commonplace books are about memory, which takes both material and immaterial form; the commonplace book is like a record of what that memory might look like.” Or, in Jonathan Swift’s words:

“A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:’ and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there.”
—from “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”

Today, find a small notebook to record poems or fragments of poems that you come across in your reading. As you add to your own commonplace book, you will be drawing a map of your life as a reader and thinker, creating a valuable portrait of your memory and time.

What do you think about that?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s