Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! I’m traveling to Albuquerque next week, where I’ll be visiting two schools — including a real Emerson Elementary.
That’s where I’ll be on April 21, which is national Poem in Your Pocket Day. Because I’ll be sharing the day with students, I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite ways to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day.
(You can read more about national Poem in Your Pocket Day at Poets.org.)
But first — in case you missed it, I am running a poetry challenge to celebrate the launch of my first novel in verse for kids, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY. All are welcome to tweet a #My5thGradeAsHaiku poem, or leave one in the comments of this post. Full details of the contest are here.
Ready for five favorite Poem in Your Pocket Day activities?
Margaret McNamara’s picture book, A Poem in Your Pocket, came out in 2015. It’s about a class of students preparing for a famous poet to visit. But it’s also about silencing our inner critics, letting poetry flow from what we see, experience, and feel. Make sure you have tissues handy. (I cry every time.)
BONUS: The end papers of this book include a great illustration of Poem in Your Pocket Activity #5.
TWO: Carry Poems in Your Pockets
Students can write their own poems to tuck into their pockets, or choose a poem they love. If you need ideas or ready made poems, try Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets: 100 Poems to Rip Out & Read. This 2011 publication from Amulet is exactly what it sounds like. The tearable pages are small, a good size to fold and put in a pocket. It includes both well-known poems and surprises.
Bruno Navasky, who selected the poems here, says in his introduction: “Carry it with you. Keep it hidden, like a little bird, deep in your pocket. But be careful! Don’t forget it wants to get out. And maybe sometimes … you’ll let it fly.” Thursday is a perfect day to let that poem fly.
Our local community college celebrates Poem in Your Pocket Day with poetry police. The police will stop you and ask to see the poem you are carrying. Don’t have one with you? You get a ticket (which, I’m pretty sure, is a poem).
THREE: Revive an Old Book of Pocket Poems
The newest book of poems on my shelf isn’t new at all. Upside Down and Inside Out: Poems For All Your Pockets, by Bobbi Katz, was published in 1973. I’m discovering many surprises in this book. There’s a series of “Things to Do If You Are” poems (“Things to Do If You Are a Flower” is my favorite) that I’m going to add to my school writing prompt repertoire.
I’m amazed at how modern the poems in this book are. Imagine what your students might say when discussing Bobbi Katz’s “School, Some Suggestions”:
If kids could be the teachers,
if kids could make the rules,
there’d be a lot of changes made
in almost all the schools.
First thing they’d stop the homework.
They’d never give a test.
They know that growing children
must have their proper rest.
They’d make the lunchtime longer—
let’s say from twelve to two,
so every growing boy or girl
had time enough to chew!
Also check out the collection Pocket Poems, selected by Bobbi Katz and illustrated by Marylin Hafner (Puffin, 2004).
FOUR: Share a Poem about Pockets
My favorite poem about pockets is Calef Brown’s poem, “Eliza’s Jacket.” It’s from his wonderful 1998 book Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks.
I created a poetry prompt based on this poem where I ask students to imagine that *anything* could be hidden in their pockets. You’ll find the full writing prompt and students responses at this post.
FIVE: Make a Wall Full of Pockets for Your Original Poems
If your students have caught the poetry bug, this is a fun way to display their poems. Kids and families love to pull out the poems and read them.