When POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY was initiated by the Academy of American Poets in 2008, I was teaching high school students and I started a tradition of celebrating the day in the school.
Students were given time to find a poem to carry in their pocket all day. They then copied it onto a piece of paper, carried the poem all day, read it to as many people as possible, had those people sign the back of the paper, and then the papers were turned in to me the next day, as we read the poems once more and celebrated.
It was a simple thing really….and it changed people’s lives.
There is power in reading a poem silently. There is even more power in reading it to others, having others stop everything for a few minutes to listen and engage with the reader and the images in the poem.
This day was always a reminder to me that the EXPERIENCE of poetry is what matters about poetry. Not the silent reading of poetry or the writing of it in a vacuum–but the active engagement with the world through poetry. This is the driving force behind the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry, which you will understand when you visit the museum.
A past museum exhibit was a variety of actual pockets taken from discarded pants along with a stack of sticky notes. Visitors would then take something from their pocket or purse and write about it on a sticky note and put it into the museum pocket for others to see and read.
A pocket is a good place for a poem. An even better place is unfolded in the open being shared with someone who needs it.
Learn more about Poem in Your Pocket Day at the Poets.org website.
Director, Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry