Pocket a Poem and Be Proud

If you have a tendency to pick up various items throughout the day and put them in your pocket, then today is the day for you. One of those various items you need to purposely put in your pocket today is a poem. Yes, it is Poem in Your Pocket Day, started in 2002, in New York, one of the greatest celebrations of poetry during the National Poetry Month of April.

Carrying a poem in your pocket exemplifies what is true about poetry–it yearns to be a part of you; it yearns to be used. Fold it several times. Take it out every hour or so. Read it to a stranger. Read it to your mom or your brother or your step-dad or your best friend or the girl no one talks to by her locker at the end of the hall.

I am carrying William Carlos Williams’ “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime.” I love the spare beauty of Williams’ poems, especially this one that speaks to me of an experience I’ve never had but . . . it speaks to me. It is a wonderful example of what the best poetry does: evoke an emotion in the reader over an experience he/she has not had. It is the perfect example poem to give to a budding poet who wants to understand how to move from simply pouring out her heart in vague generalizations (which is where much youthful poetry begins) to creating an experience designed to achieve a specific effect.

Too many people think that poetry is not for them. Poetry is especially for those people. If only we didn’t turn away from the things that would save us. If only we didn’t discount the words that reveal what mystifies us. If only we could live more each day in the mystery that a poem grants us, even as it clarifies and heals the damage that day is making.

Leave a comment about the poem you are carrying today! Pocket a poem and be proud!

–Shaun Perkins

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