"I would, of course, draw an important distinction between learning by rote (which suggests something rather dusty, dutiful and deliberate) and learning by heart, which is a way of taking a poem in to ourselves; into the most feeling part of our beings where our internal resources can get to work on a poem.

Last year, I read one of Alice Oswald’s poems, ‘Wedding’, at an event in London. Taking this beautiful sonnet into the memory and into the heart seems to me to illustrate how poetry belongs in life; how it is not a bolt-on or an optional extra, but it is like breathing.”

- Sir Andrew Motion, UK poet laureate 1999-2009 and co-founder and co-director of The Poetry Archive, speaks about the benefits of learning poetry.

Oxford University Press has partnered with The Poetry Archive to support Poetry by Heart, a new national poetry competition in England which will see thousands of students aged 14 to 18 competing to become national champion for their skill in memorizing and reciting poems by heart. OUP will provide free content from OED Online, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the American National Biography Online to support students participating in the competition.

(via Bigger and stronger hearts: poetry and memory | OxfordWords blog)