On Thursday, April 26, NIST Secondary Library will be celebrating “Poem in Your Pocket Day.”  

We ask you to come to school prepared to share a poem — by heart, in your head, or literally in your pocket.  (Do you know the story of how Nelson Mandela relied on reciting the poem “Invictus” to himself, to keep going while in prison?  Read more here.)

Do you know any poems?  Have you written some?  Want to discover new ones?  Try these websites:

Ever read a verse novel? Our library has a growing collection for you to read.  Click here for a list.

As it is also Earth Week with the theme “End Plastic Pollution”, this poem by Brian Bilston is apropos.


A bottle with a message
floated in upon the tide.
The sea is blue and so am I,
said the note inside.


Next day on the beach,
a plastic bag washed up.
Inside, another letter:
Come rescue me. I’m stuck.


In the kelp, a cry for help:
drowning in Styrofoam,
written on a coffee cup,
beneath Latte 4 Jerome.


The day after, thin tubes
were spread along the shore,
spelling out the words:
T H E  F I N A L  S T R A W.


Two weeks on, the beach was plastic.
Itself, an unanswered message:
castaways washed up on the sand,
and out to sea, the wreckage.

Brian became popular on the internet when he published a poem about refugees (animated below by Mr. Philip Williams, the NIST Elementary Teacher-Librarian, with permission from the poet).

What’s unusual about it is that it is meant to be read first one way and then in reverse.  These are also known as palindrome poems (for another example, see this well-known video of one called “The Lost Generation”).

One more Earth Week suggestion:  read “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier (after Wallace Stevens)” by Craig Santos Perez, which is a take-off on a famous poem by Wallace Stevens called “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”.

The library digital signage screen is also playing a video of this Earth Day poem by Jane Yolen this week.


“Poem in Your Pocket Day” is an annual event which originated in the New York in 2002 and became a national holiday in 2008, as part of the celebrations surrounding April as National Poetry Month in the US.  Each year the American Academy of Poets and the League of Canadian Poets produce supporting materials — see https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/poem-your-pocket-day .

For more teaching resources, see this Google Folder.  (NIST teachers – this link will let you add to the folder….)

Of particular interest are five sets of posters from the “Poems for… the Wall” project in the UK.  (They are available free if you register; access them already downloaded in the Google Folder links below.)

See an example below:

The Scottish Poetry Library also has posters you can download: http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/learn/posters 


Banner image at top of page via Massanutten Public Library – https://mrlib.org/event/poem-in-your-pocket-day-grottoes-branch-library/