Pocket Poetry, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
April 17th is the first national Poem In Your Pocket Day. It’s part of the wider celebration of National Poetry Month. I went to my monthly poetry group last Friday. We talked about the life of Maya Angelou, read her poetry, sat in silence between poems. We listened to her voice. This is the 3rd month we have met.
The first month was Ted Kooser. After the group ended that night, Teri passed around a thank-you card (gratitude to those who came before us). We all signed it; the next day she mailed it off to Ted. A generous man, the former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner wrote back within the month (look for an upcoming post).
The second month was Mary Oliver. In March, three members of the poetry group went to see Mary Oliver at the State Theater in Minneapolis (here’s Mary with her famous dog, Percy, in Jim Walsh’s MinnPost article, The poet as rock star: Mary Oliver returns for a reading). They shared stories about the funny and engaging Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, who read to a packed house; Mary Oliver is one of the humblest and highest paid poets in America.
April is the month we honor poetry as an art form. “Poetry” comes from the ancient Greek: ποιεω (poieo) meaning I create. It is an art in which human language becomes a palette for its aesthetic qualities. Poetry creates a visual feast from the simplest ingredients — it pares language down to the bare essentials.
New York City is hosting its 6th annual Poem in Your Pocket Day (PIYP) on Thursday, April 17, 2008, with a series of events scheduled to celebrate the versatility and inspiration of poetry. The day was created to encourage New Yorkers of all ages to carry a poem in their pocket to share with family and friends. Now it’s going national.
How can you participate? There is a list of ways to celebrate national Poem In Your Pocket Day at poets.org, which includes:
- Post pocket-sized verses in public places
- Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
- Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
- Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
- Add a poem to your email footer
- Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
- Text a poem to friends
Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota,
April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
My friend Teri, who started our poetry group, created and handed out Poem In Your Pocket sheets (above) after last Friday’s poetry group. We each copied a poem from over 20 poetry books sprawled over the living room floor. Copying a poet’s work, in my own hand on to a blank page, made it come more alive for me.
Leave your Pocket Poem in our comments if you wish. If you are stuck for ideas of where to find poems, there are tons of websites dedicated to poetry. Check out one of these:
- Poetry 180 – a poem a day for American high schools
- Ted Kooser’s American Life In Poetry – click on Column Archive
- poets.org – more than 2500 poems from the Academy of American Poets
- Poetry Foundation – Poetry Tool archive
Feeling brave? Write down a poem or haiku you have written, slip it into your pocket (the things we carry), and read it to some friends this Thursday, April 17th. For inspiration, listen to the great Queen Latifah’s version of Poetry Man (she got into rapping from writing poetry). Or maybe you prefer the original from Phoebe Snow (I wore a deep wax groove into Phoebe’s 1974 debut album, Phoebe Snow).
Poetry Man by Phoebe Snow, posted by jassblue on YouTube
Thanks to Teri, for starting a poetry group and inviting all of us to come along. And to all the poets who have been inspiring us since the beginning of time — thank you.
-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, April 13th, 2008