Monday, April 07, 2008

A poem in my pocket — a National Poetry Month post

The folks over at the Academy of American Poets have decided that April 17th will be the first-ever national "Poem in Your Pocket" day. It's been an annual event in New York City since 2002, and this year it's going national. Or perhaps global.

The entire "movement" in NYC was inspired by this poem by children's author Beatrice Schenk de Regniers called "Keep a Poem in Your Pocket":

Keep a Poem in Your Pocket
by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
And a picture in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
The little picture bring to you
A dozen dreams to dance to you
At night when you're in bed.

So - -
Keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed.

You can download a pocket-sized version of this poem from

Teachers have been using "poem in my pocket" activities for the past few years as well. Many of them relate to one of my favorite children's poets, Tony Mitton, who has written a marvelous poem about keeping a poem in one's pocket as part of his poetry collection My Hat and All That:

In my pocket,
feeling round,
what can this be
that I've found?

Pull it out to see
and - oooh!
Look: a poem
just for you.

Another great resource for use with kids? Bobbi Katz's book, Pocket Poems, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner. It leads off with "A Pocket Poem."

A Pocket Poem
by Bobbi Katz

With a poem in your pocket
a pocket in your pants
you can rock with new rhythms.
You can sing.
You can dance.
And wherever you go,
and whatever you do,
that poem in your pocket is going there, too.
read the rest here

But pocket poems aren't just for kids. This link will take you to an array of "pockets", each bearing a single word. At the top left, "frog" will get you a printable pocket-sized copy of "I'm Nobody! Who are You?" by Emily Dickinson. Below it, "roses" will bring you Shakespeare's Sonnet 130, which begins "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun". Both Shakespeare and Dickinson have more than one poem in the array, with poems by others including Sara Teasdale, Wilfred Owen, Gerard Manley Hopkins and more.

I hope you'll take some time between now and next Thursday to find a poem that fits your pocket, and that when Thursday, April 17th comes, you'll share it with some people in your corner of the world.

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