Right smack dab in the middle of April’s Poetry Month is Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 18, so you have time to get ready. The mayor’s office in NYC, in partnership with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Education, began the celebration in 2002 with the Academy of American Poets taking it to all fifty United States in 2008. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets brought the celebration to Canada. The celebration can be individual or in groups with ideas for celebration and poems to download at https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/poem-your-pocket-day.
My first suggestion starts by choosing one for your own pocket. It can be an oldie that you loved long ago as a child, a poem that has given direction to your life, one that reminds you of a person or event that brings good memories, one that makes you laugh, one that has brought comfort in hard times, or a new one you want to learn. Possibilities are endless. My choice for this year is Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Richard Cory.” I first heard it in college and have often recalled it when I needed to remember that appearances aren’t always reliable.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
If you have children in your life, this is a good opportunity to introduce them to a poem to love. Just match the age and personality of the children to the poem you choose and write it on an index card for their pockets. You may cheat a little and give them one you liked in the hope that they will like it, too. These are the two I have chosen for the boys who are currently in my life:
“Snail” by Langston Hughes for Benjamin who has an imaginative spirit –
Dreaming you go,
Weather and rose
Is all you know.
Weather and rose
Is all you see,
“The Sun” by John Drinkwater for Owen who loves to be outside –
I told the sun that I was glad,
I’m sure I don’t know why;
Somehow the pleasant way he had
Of shining in the sky,
Just put a notion in my head
That wouldn’t it be fun
If, walking on the hill, I said
“I’m happy,” to the Sun.