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Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's in Your Pocket? -or- An All Points Literary Advisory

Consider today’s post as an All-Points Literary Advisory, with a splash of fashion advise. It’s National Poem in Your Pocket Day, and official organizational literature indicates that the general public should be on the alert for clustered groups of troubadours, bards, and average citizens assembled for readings in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores. I’d hate to think of any of my readers turning up with empty pockets should an impromptu Unfolding break out at your place of business.

I realize that perhaps I’ve failed to get this out to you in time for much advance planning. Perhaps you’re reading this right now at your desk, poemless, sans pockets even, and panicking ever so slightly as you see a small gathering forming at the water cooler. Relax. Let’s work through this together. If you’re fortunate enough to have a favorite poet, go online and print off a poem. If you have no poetry preferences, just google a poet—any one will do: use a name you remember from freshman comp, go back mentally to high school if you must. Frost. Dickinson. Pound. Just pick one, and print off something vaguely pocket sized—don’t worry if you don’t have an actual pocket, I’m sure a purse, wallet, or shoe will do, in the spirit of the thing.

As for me, I’m a William Carlos Williams enthusiast, but a quick online check doesn’t summon my favorite of his works, The Flower, but no matter—that’s a little larger-than-pocket sized anyway. Today I’ll go with:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

--William Carlos Williams

And, see, just like that, I’m prepared. I’ll have Williams at the ready to brandish at will should the need arise. You should get prepared, too--I won’t keep you. And just in case you’re afraid of going through all the trouble of arming yourself with literature only to suffer the disappointment of not stumbling upon a Great Unfolding—fear not. You already have! Let’s see what you’ve got…

4 comments:

nooshling said...

Your pocket poem is so fun! I'm crushed - none of my Armenian poets are in the search engine on Poetry.org!

Anonymous said...

My favorite is "The Day is Done" by Longfellow. It reminds me of my grandfather. He would often, just out of the blue, quote the last stanza. Maybe I had something to do with it!

running_with_letters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
running_with_letters said...

Let's try this again....

Nooshling, glad to see via facebook that you finally found a poem.

And anonymous, I wasn't familiar with "The Day is Done" until I googled it after reading your comment--thanks for sharing!

As for me, I gave the first copy of my poem to a couple of frat boys who were collecting money in the student union. I explained that I had absolutely nothing in my pockets except this William Carols Williams poem, and that they were welcome to it, courtesy of National Poem in Your Pocket Day. They actually accepted the literary contribution--I asked if we were all square, and they said, yeah, we're cool. So I went back to the Graduate Office and announced I was now poemless and needed to print out a replacement poem, and Dr. S wanted to know what was up. She was totally thrilled by the prospect of having a poem in her pocket, so I had to do some research to find the one she wanted--she was a bit hazy on the stanzas-- but it was a poem that had to do with keeping a poem in your pocket, so of course all the research led to the National Poem in Your Pocket Day material. But I tracked it down--found a lead amidst some Chinese characters in a search engine-- printed it out, and cut it down to pocket-sized. All in all, a really good Poem in Your Pocket kind of day.

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