In 2002, the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, initiated Poem in Your Pocket Day as part of the city's National Poetry Month celebration.
In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative national, encouraging individuals around the country to join in and channel their inner bard. Each year on Poem in Your Pocket Day, schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets.
Throughout history, poems have been stowed in pockets in a variety of ways, from the commonplace books of the Renaissance to the pocket-sized publications for Army soldiers in World War II. In this age of mechanical and digital reproduction, it's easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own PIYP day event. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:
- Start a "poems for pockets" give-a-way in your school or workplace
- Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
- 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
- Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
- Text a poem to friends
Need a poem for your pocket? Here is a great one by former poet laureate, Billy Collins, called Forgetfulness
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.
No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
MORE RESOURCES :: Seniors and Poetry
- For more inspiration and poems visit: http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/409
- Alzheimer's Poetry Project: http://www.alzpoetry.com/company/
- Beyond Forgetting: Poetry & Prose about Alzheimer's: http://www.beyondforgettingbook.com/
Published on April 18, 2013.