But enough of my rambling, a lot of you are probably wondering, "What is 'Poem In Your Pocket Day?'" I will be honest that in past years I have only ever participated in it when it was required for Language Arts homework, and I would not have known today was "Poem In Your Pocket Day" if my World Literature teacher hadn't told us (however I might've if Google had decided to make a "Poem In Your Pocket Day" doodle...alright, I'm done). In fact, as I was researching "Poem In Your Pocket Day," I found that the month of April is actually National Poetry Month! While poetry is certainly not my forte, I enjoy reading it and picking out the alliteration and rhyme scheme and rhythm and playing with syllables...it's like a scavenger hunt! As a little background information for those of you who are interested, the U.S. created National Poetry Month in 1996, inspiring the Canadians to join in the spirit in 1999. Apart from the U.S. and Canada, April is celebrated as National Poetry Month in other countries around the world. In 2002, New York City created "Poem In Your Pocket Day" (PIYP) as part of the April celebration.
How does it work? It's simple! Find your favorite poem (or any poem that you like), write it down on a piece of paper, and carry it around in your pocket. I know for many of us we have passed the days of handwriting and carrying around physical paper, however I strongly encourage you to take the time to handwrite or even print out a poem and physically carry it in your pocket, not just as a note on your iPhone or what have you. The physicality of folding a piece of paper, smoothing out the creases as you clear your throat to recite, cannot be beat.
The idea of PIYP is that during the day, you take out your poem and share it with friends, family, coworkers, classmates, peers, teachers, whoever. It's a happy time, with everyone sharing their favorite writing and inspiring; it's like one big hot pot of inspiration! It reminds me of a children's story my mom used to read me when I was little called "Frederick" by Leo Lionni. The story is about a field mouse named Frederick. While all the other field mice are busy collecting food for winter, Frederick (a dreamer and a poet) spends his time collecting sun rays, colors, and words. When the food runs out, it is Frederick's stories that warm the hearts of the field mice in the winter.
I apologize for not posting this yesterday. I assure you I would've if I had known! Regardless, who's to say you can only carry a poem around in your pocket on PIYP? Any day is a good day to carry around a little inspiration.
We just started our poetry unit in World Literature (the timing couldn't be better!), so we've been reading lots of poetry in class. Today, our teacher had us copy down a poem to put in our pocket. I chose "Love Poem With Toast" by Miller Williams, mainly because I love the title.
Love Poem With Toast
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.
May speak much but makes little sense
Cannot give clear verbal instructions
Does not understand what he reads
Does not understand what he hears
Cannot handle “yes-no” questions
Has difficulty recalling what he ate for breakfast, etc.
Cannot tell a story from a picture
Cannot recognize visual absurdities
Has difficulty retaining such things as
addition and subtraction facts, or multiplication tables
May recognize a word one day and not the next
Sometimes I feel sorry for my journal, who, because of its pretty cover, was victimized to my long and sometimes (oftentimes) nonsensical rambles as I write whatever comes to mind and sometimes (oftentimes) whatever comes to mind is quite distant from my starting point. But I write it anyway because, why not? Perhaps the thought could be important for a future piece, and the idea of passing it by and not writing it down scares me. For what if, one day, I sit down and remember the shadow of a thought, a thought that would fit brilliantly into my story or hug a character like a form-fitting dress, but I cannot find the body of the shadow? What then? I would be ashamed to try and squeeze a pumpkin into a skinny slip, or try and get a string bean to hold up a ski parka...it just wouldn’t fit. So I write it down, just in case. So throughout my journal entries there are random thoughts scattered like Easter eggs, and I’m sure my journal gets quite impatient sometimes as it waits for me to get to the point. I am like a TV show host, a Ryan Seacrest, taking my sweet time to say what I really want to say (what I really mean to say), drawing out the suspense, avoiding every contraction, saying full names, using lots and lots of commas and triple periods and conjunctions (and parenthesis when I realize what I am about to write is a side-note), and it’s amazing you can do all of this in just writing, isn’t it? So I am grateful to my journal, who sits back patiently and lets me ramble and sort out my thoughts and maybe, eventually, after trudging through lots of muck and fluff, I may finally get to the gold. Or maybe not...often times not.