9 Ways to Celebrate 'Poem in Your Pocket' Day
Today in Not-Quite-Holidays You Probably Didn't Know About But Should Wholeheartedly Celebrate Anyway: Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day, friends and writers and editors and existential wrecks! This odd little holiday has been around since 2002, when NYC's Office of the Mayor teamed up with the Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education to create the event. It was then picked up by the Academy of American Poets in 2008 and now is one of those things that only cool, in-the-know people celebrate. Right? Right?
According to the Academy of American Poets, keeping a poem in your pocket isn't some new idea designed to stave off the encroachment of the internet or whatever. The concept has been around for centuries, from the scrapbook-like "commonplace books" of the Renaissance to pocket-sized books designed for WWII soldiers to carry. And keeping a tiny notebook in one's pocket is a habit of many great writers and thinkers — not to mention hoarders. All you have to do to be involved is find a poem and put it in your pocket. It can be handwritten, loaded on your iPhone, or completely imaginary. The white space is the limit!
1. Print out a poem from Poets.org and put it in your pocket.
This is the easiest and most literal way to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day. The fine Academy of American Poets has done all the work for you! They've got poems about frogs (Emily Dickinson), pears (Claude McKay), and the sorrowful hour of dusk (Wilifred Owen). All you need to do is hit print. No printer? Huh, sounds like a great excuse to creep on over to your local library.
2. Print out a tiny poem of your own choosing.
You poetic rebel! I get it, I get it, you don't want anyone to tell you what poems you should love. One of my all-time favorite tiny poems is a 7-line poem called "Ebb" by Edna St. Vincent Mil— okay, never mind, you can choose your own.
3. Download a poetry app.
If you're not satisfied with carrying one poem in your pocket, what about… AN INFINITY OF POEMS? The Poetry Foundation has a fantastic free app that'll let you access their breathtaking library of poetry whenever you want. Once you've read enough to get unbearably inspired, check out Verses, a writing app that provides a clean white interface for jotting down your genius — and suggests rhyming words for when you're not feeling so genius after all.
4. Follow a literary magazine on Twitter.
A good literary magazine is always tweeting snippets of poetry, links to other great poems, and hilarious snark about the state of the literary world. I recommend Kenyon Review, The Journal, PANK, Indiana Review, and Rattle. After all, a well-composed tweet is practically a pocket-sized poem in and of itself.
5. Submit a poem of your very own.
Put your poem in someone else's digital pocket! Never mind, I hate that metaphor. Listen, I can't tell you exactly where to submit your poetry, but I can tell you one thing — don't be like me and submit to The Paris Review fresh out of college. Let's just say my rejection slip was printed crooked and I believe they referred to me as "Dear Author."
6. Buy a tiny book.
Owning a miniature book is a magical experience. Carry it in your pocket like a talisman against the Internet Age.
7. Fall down the flash fiction rabbit hole.
Who says only poetry can fit in a pocket? One of my very favorite literary forms is flash fiction, or micro-fiction, or Tiny Almost Invisible Fiction (a name I just made up and am now copyrighting just in case). It's an easy way to get a narrative buzz without the time commitment. Check out The Moltov Cocktail for dark-dark-dark flash fiction, Nano Fiction for flash under 300 words (flash-flash?), and Monkey Bicycle for high-quality flash published almost-daily.
8. Make a blackout poem from the next scrap you find on the street.
At the risk of sounding like an overly enthusiastic kindergarten teacher, here's a crafty idea to amuse you during dark hours of the soul. Go for a walk and look for a scrap of something — anything! It could be a discarded receipt, a piece of newspaper, a to-do list. Once you've checked it for heroin needles, take it home, cross out the words you don't want to use, and turn it into a blackout poem. Keep it in your pocket: one poem, two authors.
9. Give someone else a poem.
Jot your favorite couplet on a post-it and stick it onto a friend's back. Print out a poem for someone else and hiss, "You owe me big time; do you have any idea what an ink cartridge costs these days?" Whisper-slam poetry into a stranger's ear next time you ride an elevator. Send your crush Neruda instead of roses or a creepy OKCupid message. Hand your UPS guy a poem along with the signed delivery slip. Just give someone a poem. It'll be the weirdest and best thing they experience all day.