Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Tomorrow, April 18th, is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Initiated in New York, in 2002, and adopted by the Academy of American Poets, in 2008, PYPD encourages schools, bookstores, libraries and other venues to "ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets." The Academy offers several "easy ways to celebrate" on their website, such as rewarding students "caught" with poems and posting a poem on your blog or social network page, or, better yet, in public places. Micawber's Books, for instance, is inviting a reader a day to read one poem aloud inside their store at 6 o'clock. Here at Common Good, we're celebrating poems all month long, with readings, contests, and our series, 20 Questions, which asks poets from all over to respond to the same question, also posed by the Academy: how many hot dogs could or do you think you could put in your mouth at once, not counting buns? Kidding. Speaking of jokes, here are a few more ideas on how to celebrate: 

  • Ask everyone you see if that's a poem in their pocket or they're just happy to see you. Apologize and explain that April 18th is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Again, apologize. 
  • Mail a poem to a friend. Be sure your poem's postmarked with tomorrow's date. You don't want friends thinking you're just some weirdo who sends poems to people for no reason.
  • Tweet individual lines of poems, taking care to include line breaks, indentations, and all spaces, until you have successfully tweeted an entire long poem. Put yourself in the shoes of one of your followers and imagine receiving updates in your feed throughout the day, one after another, of already esoteric, decontextualized shards of nonsense talk, comparable to that of a bleating goat or small child. What a treat. *
  • Add a poem to your email footer. Oh, also, make sure to email someone.
  • Organize a neighborhood "search committee" to go out at night with flashlights and search for people carrying poems in their pockets. When you find one, shine the flashlight in their eyes and say, "Not so fast" or "Let's see what's inside," or something to that effect. Then slowly walk away and say, "We're everywhere." Don't mess this up. Make sure the batteries are charged and that someone is dressed in a medium weight button-down tweed cape with matching deerstalker cap. If you can't find one that matches, just make sure you've got the batteries and a magnifying glass. This really isn't as hard as you're making it.
  • Start a street team to distribute poems in your area. Stop freaking out and listen. All you need to do is don a neon colored vest and accost passers by for money on behalf of some unspecified organization that helps people (World Vision, if anyone asks). When they tell you "No means no," ask them if they care about children/the future/the future of our children. As they turn to walk away, tape a poem, preferably one from A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson, on their back and shout, "Gross! What's on your back!?" Otherwise, they could miss it. It's either that or a sandwich board. It's up to you, I guess. But people aren't just going to stop and take a poem from a crazy person. FYI.

Lastly, as reported in October, poet Matthew Dickman's initiative to send poems by mail has inspired an assortment of small presses, including our own Milkweed Editions and Coffee House Press, to offer Buy One, Get One deals on books throughout the month, as if our 20% off sale on poetry wasn't incentive enough to put more poems out into the world. Now stop sitting there and spread the word! 

*Trust me, this is exactly the kind of thing Twitter was designed to make easier. 

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I missed this day but I think it's a great idea to do any time of the year. Thanks!