Erie Celebrates Poem in Your Pocket Day April 26, 2018

Breanna on Poem in Your Pocket Day

The Women’s Writing Studio partnered with the Erie Public Library and five other places to celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day, Thursday, April 26.

Brew-Ha-Ha, Ember & Forge and State Street Starbucks coffee shops, Room 33 restaurant, and Springhill Retirement Community distributed poems to patrons, residents, and staff. Over the noon hour volunteers, including Marisa Moks-Unger, Poet Laureate of Erie County, handed out poems in the Perry Square area to passersby. Breanna Mekuly, pictured at right, shares here experience here.

“April is National Poetry Month and this event is one the most popular and widely celebrated,” said Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, coordinator of the Writing Studio. “This is the third year Erie is organizing the day and we are excited to see it expand to area businesses.”

Poems distributed during the day are taken from books published by the Academy of America

Poets and rolled into scrolls and tied by volunteers. Unfurl the scroll and you could find a short poem by a well-known literary figure, such as Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings, Mary Oliver, Gwendolyn Brooks, or Emily Dickinson. Or you might discover a new contemporary writer.

“We will hand out poems to patrons all day long, plus we have displays of poetry books and we have an interactive poetry activity where you can present a poem that you wrote yourself,” says Marcy Hall, Erie County Library assistant. “Last year we gave out over 700 poems.”

Marjorie Podolsky, founder of the Springhill Writer’s Workshop, organized her group last year to give out poems to both residents and staff. “We had so much fun that everyone wanted to do it again—we were just pleasantly surprised. Everyone appreciated being approached with this free gift and a plug for National Poetry Month.”

Poem in Your Pocket Day began in New York City in 2002, and in 2008 the Academy of American Poets took it nationwide. “Poems can have a magical, humorous, and profound effect on people,” said Kownacki. “I was at a gathering last year when a man approached me and said, ‘Weren’t you passing out poems on the street last year? You have no idea how that poem changed me. Thank you.’ That made the whole effort worthwhile.”

The Writing Studio, a collective of women writers and literacy advocates, is located at the Studio at St. Mary’s, 310 E. 10th St. The studio sponsors writing workshops, author readings, book discussions, literary public art projects, literary activities for women in transition, and initiatives to celebrate National Poetry Month.

The Writing Studio is part of The Studio at Saint Mary’s: Space to Create, where studio space is available for artists and innovative programs that can positively impact center-city Erie. For more information, contact Holly Nowak.