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Poet Billy Collins

Celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day 2010

April 29, 2010
by Rachel Balik
“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history,” according to Plato. The Academy of American Poets made it easy to access that truth in 2008 by sponsoring Poem In Your Pocket Day. It was such as success that they brought it back in 2009. Find resources for celebrating this year’s Poem In Your Pocket Day on the Web.

Second National Poem In Your Pocket Day

The Academy of American Poets has named April 29, 2010, the third National Poem In Your Pocket Day. The premise is simple: carry your favorite poem and share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If whipping out a slip of paper and giving a recitation around the coffee machine at work seems a little odd to you, the Academy shares online and offline tools to help you celebrate the day. Text a poem to your friends or encourage local businesses to give a discount to patrons carrying poems. If you’re having trouble finding a poem, the Academy will e-mail you one every day for the month of April and offers PDF downloads of poems. Or search the poetry database.

Mobile Poetry

You can also use the site to download poetry to your iPhone. Or, put the poetry on your laptop by getting last year's Poem in Your Pocket Day widget from Apple. You’ll be able to download poems to print right from your Mac dashboard. Even if you don't get the widget before the event, you’ll still be able to access PDFs of poems after April 29.

Finding Your Poem

The Academy is working hard to reach a broad audience and make it easy for Americans to get excited about poetry, but other initiatives have proved that Americans already feel quite strongly about poetry, and there are many places on the Web to find and read poetry.

The Favorite Poem Project was started by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky when he was appointed in 1997. It called for Americans to submit their favorite poem; in the first year, the project received 18,000 submissions. The submissions were collected in anthologies, books and a DVD that included videos of people from all walks of life reading their favorite poems. The project is ongoing, and the site allows you watch videos or get advice for starting your own reading

You can also explore the works on Billy Collins’ Poetry 180. The former Poet Laureate selected 180 poems with high school students in mind. The idea is that students should read or hear a poem every single day of the school year because, as Collins says, “By just spending a few minutes reading a poem each day, new worlds can be revealed.” Teachers can learn how to read poems out loud or simply distribute them to their class.

Even if you’re not in high school or can’t make it to a live reading, the Poetry Archive offers the chance to hear poetry recitations. Not only can you hear poetry out loud, but the poems are recorded by their original authors. Browse for a specific favorite, take a guided tour or listen on a whim to whatever readings are featured on the homepage. Bring a few minutes of repose to your life every day of the year, not just on April 29, with a poem from the Archive.

Attending a Celebration

If you’re thinking of planning a reading or would like to attend one, Poem In Your Pocket Day is as good a date as any. New York City is actually celebrating its eighth Poem In Your Pocket Day, and festivities will take place at Bryant Park in Manhattan. All those who bring a poem to the park will get a free book of poetry, and have the opportunity to hear readings from contemporary poets. Teachers can also benefit from the poetry resources listed on the New York City Department of Education site.

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