Building Community One Poem at a Time!
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
In Barbara Cooney’s book Miss Rumphius, the woman lovingly known as the Lupine Lady spreads beauty throughout her community by keeping a pocketful of seeds to distribute 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 relatively easy and is exactly what the name implies – carry a meaningful poem in your pocket, and share it with those around you! However, to have as large of an impact as possible, families can employ some creative strategies 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.
We can share poems from pockets and non-pockets alike in their tangible form. For example, in Charlottesville, Virginia, organized efforts led to 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 the 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. Participants could distribute copies of poems 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 poetry to celebrate 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 meaningful poems. Archived posts from Amy Dryansky’s One Clover and a Bee offer suggestions for books, authors, and specific poems for families to explore. Another helpful resource is the Library of Congress’ Poetry 180, a poem-a-day project for teens hosted by former US poet laureate Billy Collins.
[Image credit: (cc) Ellen Freytag]