Poem in Your Pocket Day 2009 and Shmoop

I discovered, just in the nick of time (though not enough time to do much about it) that today is “Poem in Your Pocket Day.”  I wrote about this back in May, saying “April 2009 was a whole year away,” and here we are!

I’ll talk for a moment about how I found out about it–it’s an interesting process that shows the power of social networking.  I have a twitter account and have been “tweeting” for just over a year now.  It’s been in the news a lot lately, so if you haven’t heard about it you’re way out of the loop.  When somebody starts to “follow” me (i.e. subscribes to my tweets), I get an email message saying so.  I always take a look at who it is who’s chosen to follow me, to see if they are interesting enough to follow.  Some of them are goofy (e.g. Santa Claus), and some are just promoting a business or a website.  Occasionally, it’s someone who has obviously used a Twitter search tool to seek out people posting on subjects of interest to him or her.  Today I got an email saying helloshmoop is now following me.  Upon checking out their twitter profile, I saw one of their recent tweets mentioning that “Poem in Your Pocket Day” is happening soon… I followed the link and voila!

Who knows how long it would have taken for me to discover shmoop… if ever… and I could easily have let this day slip by.  But now I have a chance to take some of the actions suggested by the poets.org “PIYP” page.

There’s been a lot of bad press about twitter in recent weeks, but like any tool there are good and bad uses.  Today’s Hiawatha Bray column in the Boston Globe talks about how he was won over to the use of twitter as a way to “capture the wisdom of crowds.”  So it’s all about the crowds you choose to join.  Who are you following?  Do they make relevant posts telling you of interesting websites or news items, or are they telling you what they are cooking for dinner? Some twitterers post bursts of tweets that amount to short poems.  I would have enjoyed playing with this twenty years ago, when I was an English student.  Now there’s not a lot of time for it after family and work, but when there is, I often find some useful sites, like Shmoop.

Shmoop is a collective of M.A. and Ph.D. students who have launched a website with learning and teaching resources for literature, U.S. history, poetry, and writing, and it claims to make us better “lovers of life.”  If you’re reading this, you don’t need to be told that poetry will help you love life more and better.  This is my hope and goal for Albatross as  a poetry journal–and has been since we started back in 1985:  to get us to love the environment (life!  all of life!) so that we stop destroying it (as the Ancient Mariner did in Coleridge’s poem–the source of the journal’s title).

Guerilla Poetry

I just found out about the Guerilla Poetry Project (the GPP) from a poet who has previously published in Albatross #15, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, who is a founding member.  The idea is that they sneak postcards (or “broadsides”) into targeted books so that people will discover them (for as their bumper sticker says, “poetry is not meant to be hidden, it’s meant to be found”).  This reminds me of Book Crossing, where people leave books around in public places inviting others to “steal this book” and, when done, to drop it off somewhere else… I will add the GPP to my blogroll.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

I just stumbled upon “Poem in Your Pocket Day.”  It’s a bit early to plan for next year (April 2009 seems like a whole year away!), but mark it on some calendar in your life.  The idea is to get everyone to carry poems around in their pockets and then pull them out to have random poetry readings anywhere you are or go.

This made me think of the way that I memorize poems that are important to me:  I carry them in my pocket and pull them out every chance I get (and there are many such moments — like waiting at a long red light, or in the grocery line, or while you’re on hold with tech support from India….) to practice the process of memorization.

Once it’s memorized, then the next step is to remember to use those moments to practice the memorized poems (rather than curse your bad luck for picking the slowest check-out girl in the food store!).