09 April 2012

po-in-yo-po: 10 ways to celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day (4/26)

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2012 is coming! In honor of National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets is encouraging folks to pick a poem, carry it with you, and share it with those around you in honor of this special day and month. And while the Academy has its own suggestions on how to celebrate, here are ten more that you might try with me! Some are solo projects ... others ... not so much.

 If you work, or teach, or attend a weekly gathering like a workshop, a church meeting, et cetera, have a "Best Po of Your Po"--that is, the "best poem of your pockets"--contest! Gather everyone and have each person share the poem he or she has carried in his or her pocket all day. After the reading, take a vote for the best poem. Have a fun prize--a book of poetry, a copy of a lit journal, a gift certificate to a book store, etc.--for the winner!

 Post public poems. Post poems in your neighborhood on lampposts and trees. Leave poems on park benches or public bulletin boards. Put poems on your office door or in the office break room. Tape a poem to the inside of an elevator. Leave a poem--or two, or ten, or twenty--in public places all around you!

 Hold a public reading. If you work on a college or university campus, or live in a city, or ride the subway, stage a poetry reading with a few friends. Have each person read or recite some classic poems, or read some of your own!

 Get a few--or several!--friends together and have a poetic "flash mob." Have one person begin reciting a poem (a longer poem tends to work the best) and slowly have more people join in the recitation; or, have each person take over the recitation at certain points in the poem. Or you could have each person recite a different poem until you have a mass recitation happening. Fill the ears of the world with poetry!

 Offer a discount or prize or reward to people you encounter on a daily basis for carrying a poem. If you teach. The Academy suggests business owners offer a discount to customers who show a poem, but don't let it stop there! If you teach, offer a few points extra credit (or, if you teach at a college/university, you might offer an excused absence). If you have coworkers, offer to buy a cup of coffee or tea for someone (or someones) who carry poems. It doesn't have to be big. But it should probably be worth it. ("Free smiles" might not cut it.)

 Nothing goes together better than loving poetry and pretending you're a spy! (Okay, many things go together better, but this is fun.) Slip poems into "stealthy" locations--a friend's pocket, your kids' lunches, a coworker's desk drawer, the toilet paper dispenser ... See how many poem "bugs" you can "plant" in a day. If you have a group of several poet friends and allies willing to play along, have a contest to see who can plant the most poem-bugs by day's end. A prize would be nice. ("Free smiles"?)

 You can also reverse this little poetic "game" by gathering poet friends (and allies) and having them carry several poems--on their person, or sneakily hidden away. Each person would then try to stealthily do some recon work to "recover" as many poems as possible. The person with the most poems at the end of the day wins!

 Get a cheap t-shirt and paint, stitch, or sew a fake pocket on the front (or you could find a t-shirt with a pocket). Pick one of your favorite poems (it will probably have to be a relatively short one) and use a fabric pen or sharpie (you could use fabric paint if you have a steady hand, a short poem, and patience!) to write the poem on the pocket. Wear it out and about!

Text a poem to a friend, or friends. Pick a short poem, or just a few lines of a poem, and send it out in the morning. Do another one in the afternoon. Leave a voice mail with a poem, or email it, or tweet a haiku.

Use colorful paper to create pocket-shaped cutouts. Write a poem on the paper pockets with markers or sharpies or colorful pens. Pass them out to friends, coworkers, family members, receptive strangers, your bus driver, the guy working the fast food drive-through window, and so forth! To make it an art project, cut pocket shapes out of fabric and stitch the poem on, or use fabric pain, or use printable fabric to print the poem and sew it to a colorful piece of cloth. Pass these out or hang them on your walls at home or at work!

Whatever you do, have fun. And remember: A poem is always a gift worth sharing!


  1. How about Pick Pocket someone looking like they have a poem in their pocket? Naaa,probably a bad idea : )

  2. Ok, dropping off Wild Geese by Mary Oliver at every Starbucks I visit on po in yo po day/week. That'll be the po in yo Sbux ;)

  3. That's a great idea, Veronica! Have fun :)


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