Magic and Poetry

Published on Thursday, January 27, 2011 in , , , , ,

Natalie Roberts' magnetic poetry photoI talk about poetry quite a bit, as well as magic. What happens when they're combined?

Once you've got the basics of memorizing poetry down, how do you make it magical?

Surprisingly, if the poem is perceived as challenging enough, just memorizing and reciting the poem can have its own magic. For example, Archie Campbell's recitation of Rindercella and the Pee Little Thrigs, and Saucy Sylvia's Ride Hooding Red are still remembered by many who saw them. All these amazingly-told stories are from the same source, a book called Stoopnagle's Tale Is Twisted.

Besides being amazing in and of itself, poetry can also be used to set the atmosphere for a magic show. A perfect example is Ricky Jay's use of the poem Villon’s Straight Tip to All Cross Coves to simultaneously establish an atmosphere of both con games and academic analysis:

You don't have to stop the show for poetry, though. When you think of this, however, you might think of only using it for a classic, even romantic atmosphere. Certainly, that can be done, such as when Alain Choquette performs his broken-and-restored thread routine. However, it can also be used for other purposes. Penn & Teller use the classic poem Casey At The Bat for not only comedy, but to provide excitement via a time limit for an escape:

Surprisingly, you can even make a magic square edgy through the use of poetry, as Benji Bruce proves:

What if we make the poem more central to the magic? Is there really such a thing as magic with poetry itself? Believe it or not, there is such a thing.

If you remember the discussion of James Grime's videos on the Kruskal Count, as shown as Last To Be Chosen and Last To Be Chosen II, you may remember the routines that used the Declaration of Independence and/or the Wizard of Oz opening paragraph. About 2 years ago, I discussed using the Kruskal Count for poetry tricks in more detail.

As with much of math-based magic, Martin Gardner was there first. Inspired a 1927 book by T. Page Wright, in which the 19th word of every poem was always “rose” and the 31st word was always “love”, he created his own original magic poems, both of which could employed a die to allow the performer to divine the word.

If you're a member of the Magic Cafe, and you have more than 50 posts, you have access to some of the most advanced poem-related magic in Leo Boudreau's routines Poems I and The Raven & The Beatle Decoded. In both of these routines, people choose words from a classic poem, and without any apparent clues, you're able to determined the chosen words.

If you have any experience with magic and poetry, I'd love to hear about it the comments!

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2 Response to Magic and Poetry

3:50 PM

Check Vincent Hedan's Haiku, you may like it.

3:02 PM

That is very good comment you shared.Thank you so much that for you shared those things with us.Im wishing you to carry on with ur achivments.All the best.