Since 2003 New York City has celebrated the day every year with activities in schools and cultural organizations. In 2008 the Academy of American Poets extended the program nationally, and since then many other cities have instituted their own annual celebrations.
Poetry. As we say in New York City, what's not to like?
I'll be carrying two poems in my pocket: "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats, which seems almost too appropriate this year, and a wonderful Wendell Berry poem, "The Real Work".
The Second Coming
By William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The Real Work
By Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
What poem will you carry?
My niece Heather has chosen her pocket-sized poem: "Still Here" by Langston Hughes. Another friend, Win, has chosen William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis" – which could require a deep pocket.
If you need ideas, visit the Academy of American Poets' Poem in Your Pocket Day site.
Also, do yourself a favor and download the Poetry Foundation's fabulous poetry app – you'll be able to carry hundreds of poems in your pocket every day.
New Yorkers can check out our city's Poem in Your Pocket Day activities here.