Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poem in Your Pocket Day
As my World Literature teacher informed us today, today is "Poem in Your Pocket Day!" I was a bit disappointed with Google, considering the other day they had a zipper-themed Google Doodle to celebrate Eric Sundback's (the inventor of the zipper) 132nd birthday. I am by no means downgrading the significance of Sundback's invention (I can't even begin to imagine where my life would be without zippers...most likely even more disorganized with everything falling out of my book bags and countless other bags I bring to school everyday). I would've thought that if Google could take the time to create a zipper doodle to honor Eric Sundback (by which I was very amused in Global Studies the other day), they would've surely created one in honor of "Poem in Your Pocket Day."

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'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

Miller Williams

Some of what we do, we do
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.
The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.
With yes and no like the poles of a battery
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,
as each of us wants the other
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.

It's not even a love poem; it's just the musings of a young couple at breakfast. 

For homework last night, our teacher had us write "imitation poems," where we read a poem and write a response poem. Our response could either be addressing the message in the poem, responding to a single line or image, imitating the rhyme scheme, form, rhythm, whatever inspired us. It's a great writing prompt if you're interested, and it's fun because you're bouncing ideas off fellow writers. And even if a class of 25 all responds to the same poem, they're all bound to be different, because everyone will be inspired by something different. 

I did my imitation on the poem, "The Poet" by Tom Wayman. In his poem, Wayman talks about the absent-mindedness of the poet: losing his train of thought, speaking nonsense, not comprehending what he reads and hears, etc. 

The Poet

Tom Wayman

Loses his position on worksheet or page in textbook
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 great difficulty interpreting proverbs
Has difficulty recalling what he ate for breakfast, etc.
Cannot tell a story from a picture
Cannot recognize visual absurdities
Has difficulty classifying and categorizing objects
Has difficulty retaining such things as
addition and subtraction facts, or multiplication tables
May recognize a word one day and not the next

Just last night I was writing in my journal and reflecting on how much rambling I do. (Some of my blog posts are also very "rambly," although I try my best to spare you from my random thoughts...sometimes I just can't help myself though. I'm too excited to share!) So, I wrote a poetry response to the idea of writing nonsense; I wrote a ramble about a ramble.


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 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.

I invite you to please post a comment with some of your own poems in your pocket! And also any imitation poems you write. Just like stone soup, we could have one big hot pot of poetry! And when the days are cold, it will be this soup that keeps us warm.

Sweet Dreams,

Megan ;)

P.S. Did you notice? is updated.


Anonymous said...

Hey Meg!!
I didn't even realize it was Poem in Your Pocket Day, my World Literature teacher didn't tell us!! Well here's my favorite poem:

Fast Break by Edward Hirsch

A hook shot kisses the rim and
hangs there, helplessly, but doesn't drop,

and for once our gangly starting center
boxes out his man and times his jump

perfectly, gathering the orange leather
from the air like a cherished possession

and spinning around to throw a strike
to the outlet who is already shoveling

an underhand pass toward the other guard
scissoring past a flat-footed defender

who looks stunned and nailed to the floor
in the wrong direction, trying to catch sight

of a high, gliding dribble and a man
letting the play develop in front of him

in slow motion, almost exactly
like a coach's drawing on the blackboard,

both forwards racing down the court
the way that forwards should, fanning out

and filling the lanes in tandem, moving
together as brothers passing the ball

between them without a dribble, without
a single bounce hitting the hardwood

until the guard finally lunges out
and commits to the wrong man

while the power-forward explodes past them
in a fury, taking the ball into the air

by himself now and laying it gently
against the glass for a lay-up,

but losing his balance in the process,
inexplicably falling, hitting the floor

with a wild, headlong motion
for the game he loved like a country

and swiveling back to see an orange blur
floating perfectly through the net.

I read it last year during the poetry unit, and it has been my favorite ever since! I love it because it's about basketball :)


Ali said...

I chose to out this poem in my pocket the other day:

for my mother

They are fleeting.
They are fragile.
They require

little water.
They’ll surprise you.
They’ll remind you

that they aren’t
and they are you.