A few weeks ago, when I wrote about her book, Carolyn Arends left a nice comment. After I picked myself up off the floor, I of course emailed her back. I tried not to fangirl all over the place but I may or may not have succeeded. But the best part was that she also responded to my email! With a poem that she thought I would like! Carolyn Arends gets me, you guys. Somebody invent a time machine so I can tell 16-year-old me about this.
I celebrated with my students a little bit differently this year. Instead of asking them to bring me anything, I just handed out scraps of poetry to anyone who would take them.
Can I have one? You can have as many as you want. Why are you doing this? These are poems I like that I want to share with you. What do we do with them? Read them? Or maybe use them as bookmarks?
I gave the crooked neighbor with the crooked heart to my John Green fangirl, who squealed. One student took “Invictus” and read it out loud, and when I told him about Mandela, he smiled happily and said, “That’s what’s up.” But the best moment for me was when a young man took “Still I Rise” and read it to himself, then looked at me with eyes wide and said, “This poem is true!”
The point of carrying poetry around is to show that it’s real and tangible. It can unfold itself in fluorescent cafeterias, not just ivory towers.
As always, Poem in Your Pocket Day was a highlight of the school year for me. Thanks to my students for having ears to hear, or at least playing along for a few minutes.