Anki Lyrics/Poetry Cloze Generator (LPCG) is an add-on for Anki to make it easier to study long passages of verbatim text, like poetry or song lyrics.
This is LPCG 1.2.0. Versions in the 0.x series were standalone Python scripts that had to be installed and run separately from Anki; the add-on approach taken by 1.0 and above should be much easier to set up and use for most users. Version 1.2.0 supports Anki 2.1 only; 2.0 is no longer supported.
- Editing LPCG notes
- Summary of the LPCG note type
- Appendix: Initial memorization of poetry
If you have found a bug or wish to suggest an improvement, you can post on the issue tracker or submit a pull request at GitHub.
(For clarity, in the remainder of this documentation, I’ll discuss “poetry,” but everything applies equally to songs, speeches, or whatever.)
Memorizing poetry can be a tough problem for Anki users: it isn’t obvious how to divide it into discrete cards. People often try one of the following approaches:
- Putting the whole poem onto one card. This is a bad idea because if you have trouble with any part of the poem, you’ll have to fail the entire card, and you will review far more often than you need to.
- Creating one card per line and defining an order for the cards, so Anki asks for the lines in order. Aside from this being impossible in the current version of Anki, spaced repetition scheduling doesn’t work properly unless the cards are in random order.
LPCG takes a different approach: it generates cards that can stand on their own and make perfect sense in random order. Each card shows two lines from the poem and then asks you to recite the third line following them. One card is created per line, so that each line is tested exactly once.
In my experience, this is not a good way to memorize poetry: not seeing the full context makes initial acquisition quite frustrating. However, it is a good way to review poetry. This is fine, because as most Anki users know, the big problem isn’t learning things in the first place, it’s remembering them for long periods of time.
If you don’t know a good way of initially learning poems, look at the Initial memorization section at the end of this manual.
To add a poem to your collection, choose Tools → Import Lyrics/Poetry. You will see the following window:
The options should be fairly self-explanatory. Note that the Title field will be used to warn you if you already have this poem in your collection, as well as appearing at the top of each of your cards.
The large text box, called the poem editor, contains the text from which your
cards will be generated. You can either type or paste a poem directly into the
editor or open a plain text file somewhere on your computer using the Open
file button. Lines beginning with the comment character
# are ignored;
everything else in the editor will be treated as the text of your poem.
LPCG understands blank lines between stanzas as stanza breaks. The ends of stanzas will be marked with the character ⊗ (this is a conventional marker for end-of-stanza in some fields), and the very end of the poem will be marked with the character □.
You can include one level of indentation by placing any number of spaces or tabs at the beginning of the indented line(s). The LPCG note type also applies a hanging indent to any lines that do not fit on the screen in their entirety.
Here is an example of a correctly formatted poem:
# from “Little Gidding,” movement II # by T.S. Eliot Ash on an old man’s sleeve Is all the ash the burnt roses leave. Dust in the air suspended Marks the place where a story ended. Dust inbreathed was a house – The wall, the wainscot and the mouse. The death of hope and despair, This is the death of air. There are flood and drouth Over the eyes and in the mouth, Dead water and dead sand Contending for the upper hand. The parched eviscerate soil Gapes at the vanity of toil, Laughs without mirth. This is the death of earth.
When you’re done, click Add notes to add the poem to your collection.
Editing LPCG notes
Sooner or later you will probably find that you made a typo in one of your poems. To correct the typo properly, you should search for the typo in the browser, rather than just pressing edit, since it will be on three different notes. Two of the errors will be in the Context field and one will be in the Line field.
Summary of the LPCG note type
The four fields of the note type are as follows:
- Line: Contains the line this card asks you to recite.
- Context: Contains the two lines prior to Line. Note that this looks kind of oddly spaced in the editor (but normal in review) because the editor doesn’t use the same styling as the review window.
- Title: The title of the poem that this line comes from.
- Sequence: The line number (counting only text lines, not comments or blank lines) of Line in the original poem.
Note that LPCG takes the approach of creating a series of unrelated notes rather than a single note. Creating one note per poem would have a number of serious disadvantages:
- Sibling burying would get in the way – it can of course be turned off, but this would be confusing to some users.
- The amount of template boilerplate required would be absurd, and extremely large templates can cause syncing and other issues.
- LPCG would not be able to support poems of arbitrary length, since note types cannot contain an arbitrary number of fields or card types; at some point you would have to create multiple notes for the same poem, which would break the neat correspondence anyway.
The Sequence field helps to mitigate the disadvantages of having separate notes
– by searching for a given poem (e.g.,
"note:LPCG 1.0" "Title:My Poem") and
then sorting by the Sequence field, you can still see and select the whole poem
If you’d like to customize the width of indents, you can make some changes in the styling section of the card types dialog:
- Hanging indent (when a line is too long for the screen): Change
.linesclass. They should be inverses of each other (e.g., if
text-indentis 30 pixels,
margin-leftshould be -30 pixels). You’ll also need to change
.clozesection to match
- Manual indent (when an indent is given in the original poem text): Change
The end-of-stanza and end-of-poem markers can be changed in the add-on config (choose Tools → Add-ons, select LPCG in the list on the left, and click the Config button).
Appendix: Initial memorization
The LPCG method requires you to memorize your poems before you start reviewing them in Anki. As alluded to in the Theory section, there are a lot of good ways to memorize poetry initially; it’s retaining it that’s hard. If you already know how to memorize poetry, don’t listen to me, just use your own method. But if you don’t have a good method, here’s one that works well for me.
- If you haven’t already, read through the poem carefully so you have a general idea of how it goes.
- Read through the poem again, line by line. This time, immediately after you read each line, look away from the page and repeat the line back. If you stumble or get it wrong, try again until you get it right: read the line again, then look away and repeat it again. It is helpful but not strictly necessary to speak out loud.
- Repeat step 2, but take two lines at a time – then repeat with three, four, five, and six. You will find it gets a little bit harder each time, but not much, since you’re getting more familiar with the poem as well; before you know it you’ll be able to remember six lines at a time. It is unnecessary to continue this process beyond six lines.
- Set the poem aside until the next day – it is truly remarkable how much easier it is to continue after a good night’s sleep. Do not skip this step! The rest will be easy if you do it and quite frustrating if you don’t.
- Try reciting the poem straight through. If the text is easy, you may have it already; otherwise, go back and work on any spots you don’t have down yet. No particular method is necessary at this point. Don’t work for more than a few minutes; just touching all the difficult spots is enough.
- The next day, repeat step 5. Most likely the poem will now come very naturally to you. Particularly difficult texts may require one more day.
Once you have the poem learned, don’t forget to put it into Anki if you want to remember it beyond the next couple of weeks – this is when LPCG comes into play.
It is totally fine to take breaks during step 3, even doing it over several days; you’ll spend 90% of your concentrated time in this step, and it’s not helpful to try to work when you’re tired.