Let's talk about poetry.
So poetry isn't for everyone.
It's our least-asked-for genre of books (right up there with graphic novels, which appeal to a certain demographic, but unfortunately don't garner enough attention or sales for us to carry too many in-stock. If you ever wonder why a certain selection in the shop is small or entirely absent, just know: It has a lot to do with the science of sales. Hence our small, but decently-curated section of poetry). So it's our least-shopped area in the store, but the people who do want poetry? The people who seek it out and purchase a selection or two?
They are passionate about it.
I'm not sure poetry is something you can be ambivalent about. You either love it, or you hate it. I love it, though I'm no connoisseur. I recited Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" at my high school graduation ceremony, which looking back seems a little cliche, but I loved that poem then, and I still love it now. I discovered Mary Oliver a few years ago, and her words about my wild and precious life stuck with me long after seeing them on the page. I felt passion in my bones watching Robin Williams as English professor John Keating in Dead Poets Society: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering... these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love... these are what we stay alive for." (Seriously, who did not get chills watching this movie?)
All this really brings me to my main point: April is National Poetry Month, and more specifically, this Thursday, April 24 is Poem in Your Pocket Day.
Perhaps you've never heard of Poem in Your Pocket Day -- I hadn't, until a librarian friend of mine shared how she encourages students to embrace poetry through this one special day a year. The concept is simple: Carry around a favorite poem in your pocket on Thursday. Share it with the people you come across. Mail a poem to a friend. Add a poem to your email footer. Get the written word out there in the hands and minds of the people you know and love.
Here's how we at The Bookshelf plan to celebrate:
- Come to the shop and stick your favorite poem on the chalkboard in front of our register.Our staff will be taping up our favorite poems, but we want yours on the board too. Bring a poem to share with us. We want that chalkboard covered in your favorite poetry!
- Get a poem in your bag. Make a purchase on Thursday, and we'll stick one of our favorite poems in your bag at checkout.
- Enjoy 10% off your purchase. Share a poem on the store chalkboard, and we'll give you 10% off your purchase.
The world needs more poetry, I think. More imagination and more joy. We're going to do our part Thursday, and we're going to share it with you.