National Poetry Month was started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 to remind the public that poetry matters and the integral role of poetry in our culture. It has grown into the largest literary celebration in the world, as tens of thousands of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and—of course—poets, mark poetry’s important place in our lives.

Poems offer wisdom, encouragement, and language that allow us to slow down and center ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

There are many ways to celebrate National Poetry Month. You can start planning for Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 29. Here’s how:

  • Select a poem and share it on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem.
  • Print a poem from the Poem in Your Pocket Day PDF and draw an image from the poem in the white space. If you are really artistic, you can use the instructions on pages 57-58 of the PDF to make an origami swan.
  • Record a video of yourself reading a poem, then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, or another social media platform you use.
  • Email a poem to your friends, family, neighbors, or local government leaders.
  • Schedule a video chat and read a poem to your loved ones.
  • Read a poem aloud from your porch, window, backyard, or outdoor space.

Poetry is best when shared, and Poem in Your Pocket Day is the perfect time to surprise someone with the gift of poetry.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, the community comes together on national Poem in Your Pocket Day for a day-long celebration of poetry. The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library staff recruits students, senior citizens, local business owners, neighbors, and friends to distribute over 7,000 poem scrolls throughout Charlottesville. They are given out at a local hospital, a children’s museum, libraries, senior centers, nursing homes, and small businesses in the downtown area. A street team hands out poems along the Charlottesville pedestrian mall. “The very best part of the project is seeing the way people immediately respond to poetry. People call the library to say how much their poem meant to them. Some folks come back for additional scrolls to give to friends and family members. People stop to recite favorite poems, from memory, to street team members. Last year, when the day was over, we were happily surprised when one street team member commented that he had not seen a single poem on the ground or in the trash bin! People were tucking them in purses and pockets, to keep and to reread.”

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