Spread Poetry and Build Community with Poem in Your Pocket Day
In Barbara Cooney’s book Miss Rumphius, the woman lovingly know as the Lupine Lady spreads beauty throughout her community by keeping a pocketful of seeds to distribute – so as to share the joy of nature’s treasures. During National Poetry Month, families can apply the Lupine Lady’s philosophy of life to the written word by participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day.
Begun in New York City in 2002, Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages folks of all ages to celebrate the power of the written word by sharing poetry with others. Participation is fairly easy and is exactly what the name implies – carry a meaningful poem in your pocket, and share it with those around you! However, in order to have as large of an impact as possible, families can employ some creative strategies in order to sow the seed of their chosen words far and wide. Thanks to digital media, poems can be taken from the depths of pockets and shared via e-mail and social networking sites.
In their tangible form, poems can be shared from pockets and non-pockets alike. In Charlottesville, Virginia for example, organized efforts lead to a total of 7,000 poems being distributed school-style throughout the community, giving the project a broad and meaningful impact. While it may be short notice to coordinate distribution of thousands of poems for this year’s Poem in Your Pocket Day, it’s certainly not too late to devise creative strategies for sharing thought-provoking, joyful, and otherwise meaningful written works. Copies of poems could be distributed amongst students in schools, mailed to neighbors, or left at community hubs like libraries, post offices, or community centers.
However poetry is shared, Poem in Your Pocket Day presents a unique opportunity to shed light on pieces written by local writers. Budding poets can share their own poetry in celebration of the event, allowing themselves an instant audience of readers. In addition to sharing original works, celebrants of Poem in Your Pocket Day can draw from the thousands of poems written by well-known poets. Covering everything from silliness to sadness, melancholy to magnificence, poems can evoke thought, inspire a sense of place, spark empathy, spread ideas, and connect people through shared understanding.
In addition to looking to the pages of books, families can find poems to explore together through The Favorite Poem Project, which features recordings of Americans from all walks of life sharing poems that are meaningful to them. Another useful resource is the Library of Congress’ Poetry 180, a poem-a-day project for teens hosted by former US poet laureate, Billy Collins. Archived posts from Amy Dryansky’s One Clover and a Bee offer suggestions for books, authors, and specific poems for families to explore, as well.
[Image credit: (cc) Ellen Freytag]