Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrating the vitality of poetry

It's time to channel your inner bard /
Thursday is National Poem in Your Pocket Day.

The seventh national Poem in Your Pocket Day is Thursday, and I'm ready to celebrate.

April is National Poetry Month across America. It's a great opportunity to become acquainted -- or re-acquainted -- with poetry, and to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.

Since 2008, the Academy of American Poets have encouraged individuals throughout the country to join in the Poem in Your Pocket Day and channel their inner bard. According to the Academy of American Poets' website: "We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry's ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated."

Such as in the wonderful environment of a delightful independent bookseller, located in a vibrant neighborhood, that happens to be near one of the nation's top public universities.

As it happened, last Friday my wife and I walked into Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts Bookshop on College Avenue in Berkeley's Elmwood neighborhood, near the University of California, to browse at books after dining nearby. In a prominent display in the center of the shop was a basket displaying hundreds of beautifully written "pocket poems" printed on nice stationary that could easily tuck into one's pocket to share with friends and family.

What a clever idea -- and these "pocket poems," feature many different San Francisco Bay Area poets, including: Maxine Chernoff, Brian Komel Dempster, Alice Jones, Hugh Martin, David Meltzer, Randall Potts, giovanni singleton, Tess Taylor and Alli Warren.

Also, Jennifer Elise Foerster, whose "pocket poem" contribution is entitled "Flight." I picked hers at random from the basket and look forward to reciting it on April 24.


As a child I tossed
all my imaginary friends
out the window of a fast moving train
because I wanted to feel my fist
break open as I freed them,
as each of their bodies
whipped against the siding,
their insides: snow
dispersing into wind,
their little heads rolling
across the yellow plains.

Because I believed they would return.
But non have since.
Not even the ones I didn't love.

Mrs. Dalloway's has encouraged its customers to come by their bookshop and pick up a "pocket poem" anytime during the month and share it on the seventh national Poem in Your Pocket Day. Bookstores, libraries, schools and parks throughout the country will be participating in pocket poem readings. This year, the celebration is carrying over to social media, too. Twitter users can use the hashtag #pocketpoem to share a favorite poem with their followers.

Indeed, the idea behind Poem in Your Pocket Day is a simple one, and anyone can create their own pocket poem. Here's how: Select a poem you love during National Poetry Month, then carry it with you and share it on Thursday, April 24 with friends and family -- even co-workers, too.

"Flight": From Leaving Tulsa by Jennifer Foerster ©2013 The Arizona Board of Regents. Pocket Poem reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.
Pocket poem illustration by Michael Dickens ©2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment