Thursday was National Poem In Your Pocket Day, perhaps the most popular of the many events that highlight National Poetry Month. Poetry lovers across America carried a favorite poem with them to celebrate the art and share their favorite verse.
Here in New York City, where the idea was first hatched, Poets House in lower Manhattan handed out free pocket-sized poems to locals and tourists alike in the area near World Financial Center. In Bryant Park, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott recited Emily Dickinson's well-known lyric about hope:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
But no public figure embraces the day as thoroughly as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. On Thursday, he released a statement applauding Poem In Your Pocket Day as, "designed to encourage all of us non-poets take a moment to read a few lines of a favorite poem, or discover a new one. Or -- even better yet -- read a poem with your children or grandchildren, and help inspire them to understand that poetry is all around us."
Bloomberg even wrote a poem for the occasion, as seems to have become tradition for him. This year's effort, "Artistic Freedom," reveals that while Bloomberg is no Shakespeare, he's well aware of that fact, and he actually knows quite a bit about poetry.
April is the cruelest month, I've heard a poet say
But not for me because there's Poem in Your Pocket Day
Each year, I get to publish my new verse - it's quite a perk
Too bad reporters always ask me to describe my work
Oh who knows?
My stuff's not like Dickinson - or Gertrude Stein
I'm not a new Longfellow, though he's just fine
I don't write like Whitman, I don't rhyme like Pope
I don't sound like Ezra Pound (or so I hope)
My work's not like Chaucer or Baldwin or Hughes
My poems aren't like Emerson's or Angelou's
I'm not Robert Frost - though we share a few traits
And I am not Keats (which does not rhyme with Yeats)
My style isn't Wordsworth - that's not what it is
Nor is it like Browning (Not Robert or Liz)
It's not Dr. Seuss. It's not Mother Goose.
I just can't describe it - I have no excuse
Not Ginsberg or Sandburg, you see
I shouldn't be T.S.
i can't be e.e.
I won't ever rhyme like Muhammad Ali
So I'm free
To be anything I want to be
And that is the note I'll end upon
New York New York!
Write on Write on!
Bloomberg may struggle to describe his "work," but I doubt that many poets would. I expect that they'd simply describe it as much appreciated.