What is Your Favorite Poem? Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day Thursday

Poetry - What is your favorite poem?
Thursday is National "Poem in Your Pocket Day." To spread the love for poetry, carry your favorite poem in your pocket and share it with others.

Teachers can find many resources on the Poets.org website, and I also have a free download with popular poems that can be printed and selected by students to use for this special day.

So what is your favorite poem? Which will you pick to carry with you on Thursday? Will you reward students who carry poems in their pockets?

One of my favorites is "Speech to the Young : Speech to the Progress-Toward" by Gwendolyn Brooks (see below). I love the way she uses language in a unique way (which is one of the reasons e.e. cummings is a favorite poet of mine). For example, the preposition "along" is not used as a preposition or as an adverb, but as a noun. "Along" is now a time - the present - to live for, to enjoy, to be happy (not down about things you cannot control). She also has a beautiful sense of alliteration: never over-doing it and combining just the right mixture of sounds to create a memorable punch where it's needed. Just listen to the "s" sounds, mixed with the "h" sounds. They flow smoothly until you get to the end of the first stanza, where the "h" sound comes to an abrupt halt with "hard home-run." It's perfect. That's reality, and sometimes reality bites. I love that you can hear it biting with the crack of a home run, which ain't great when you're the pitcher.

But just when you think, Wow. Pretty depressing, she comes back with the beauty of the "l"/"n" combo of sounds: "Live not...", repeating itself then following up with "Live in the along." Just the way the line ends (in terms of sound) radiates that sense of well-being. Things will be fine. It's not about winning, it's not about things that happened in the past, and it's not about the future or what lies ahead. It's about right now and what you do with your life this moment to make a difference, to progress.

Speech to the Young : Speech to the Progress Toward
by Gwendolyn Brooks

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
"even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night."
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along. 

"Speech to the Young" by Gwendolyn Brooks, from BLACKS
(Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 1991). Copyright © 1991 by Gwendolyn Brooks Blakely.

I have so many other favorites, but this is one I'm sure I'll carry with me Thursday.  Comment below with the poem(s) you'll be carrying.

In the past I have rewarded students with candy for carrying a poem. I'm not sure what I will do this year. Perhaps they will be a recipient of one of the pencils that I had personalized with poetry-related quotes or titles. Or perhaps I will give them a poetry-related bookmark. What do you think?

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