On Thursday April 26th we celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day as one of the many ways to participate in National Poetry Month, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. On this day we are all encouraged to select a poem, carry it with us in our pocket, and share it with others throughout the day. Just pass the poem along, read it aloud, send it via e-mail, blog or twitter to help make someone’s day.
In that spirit, you should be sure to take time to explore some of the new poetry of our current Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith. Written in plain powerful words, her poems describe everything from space exploration, political divides, the legacy of slavery, and the burden of history – and so much more. In a recent New York Times article called “The Poem Cure” by Ruth Franklin, Smith describes her work this way:
“There’s a deep and interesting kind of troubling that poems do, which is to say: ‘This is what you think you’re certain of, and I’m going to show you how that’s not enough. There’s something more that might be rewarding if you’re willing to let go of what you already know.”
In her recent book, Life on Mars, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, her poems take us into the far world her father explored as an engineer working on the Hubble Space Telescope, to David Bowie’s hip New York, and then back to the experiences of living daily life in a humbling and perplexing world. In “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?” Ms. Smith captures David Bowie’s dazzle like this:
When a man his size can meet
Your eyes for just a blip of time
And send a thought like SHINE
SHINE SHINE SHINE SHINE
Straight to your mind. Bowie,
I want to believe you. Want to feel
Your will like the wind before rain.
The kind everything simply obeys,
Swept up in that hypnotic dance
As if something with the power to do so
Had looked its way and said:
You can find the poem and so much more among Tracy K. Smith’s work in the CSN Libraries:
Ordinary Light: A Memoir
The Body’s Question
Life on Mars: Poems
As Poet Laureate, Smith has been traveling and reading her work throughout rural America, spreading appreciation for poetry, history, and the diversity of individual experience and perspective. On Thursday, think about putting one of her poems in your pocket, taking it out and sharing it to help to spread the poetic word, and maybe a new way of seeing the world.