Tomorrow is the first Wednesday of October, and that can only mean one thing: It's Random Acts of Poetry Day!
Let me share a story: As I was approaching the lecture hall for a round table on poetry with other poets, a woman approached me with a baggie full of chalk. She stopped me, dug into the baggie, and handed me a piece. Then, she directed me to write a poem outside on the sidewalk.
Her name was Mary Margaret Carlisle, and her reasoning was that poetry belongs everywhere--even random and temporary places, like chalk on a sidewalk.
When I think of Random Acts of Poetry Day, this is the kind of thing I remember. And I've created a list of other possible ways to get random and poetic tomorrow!
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8 Ways to Rock Random Acts of Poetry Day!
Write a sidewalk (or asphalt) poem.
Get thee to the dollar store and buy some chalk. Then, write a line of poetry, a haiku, a sestina. Heck, illustrate the poem if you want. The more well-traveled the path the better (sorry, Frost).
Poetry-centric nonprofit Mass Poetry partnered with Boston City Hall to create the "Raining Poetry" project, which involves using biodegradable water-repellent spray to stencil poems on the sidewalks—but they can only be seen when they're wet.
Make an instanthology of poetry.
Learned this trick from Thom the Future in Austin, Texas. He would have poets write up poems on the spot, make photocopies, staple them together, and boom! A new poetry anthology.
Ask people what their favorite poem is.
Whether people consider themselves fans of poetry or not, nearly everyone has a favorite poem—even if it's a dirty limerick or song lyrics. Getting people to talk about poems and poetry is just as powerful as reading or writing lines.
Offer to write poems on the spot.
Some poets do this with a typewriter, but you could set up shop with just a pen and a spiral bound notebook. Let people tip you if they wish, but offer people the opportunity to get a fresh, on-the-spot poem by you. Talk about random.
Share favorite poems on social media.
You may already do this; you may not. Either way, there are few better days to randomly share your favorite poets and poems than on Random Acts of Poetry Day. Plus, your friends and family might read and learn something new that changes their lives forever. (Btw, share random acts of poetry on Twitter using the #raopoetryday hashtag.)
For my recent reading at the Decatur Book Festival, I read 10 poems in 10 minutes, printed them up on a double-sided sheet of paper, and distributed 50 copies to folks at the festival for free. Even though it wasn't Random Acts of Poetry Day, it was my way to share my words with the world.
Why not? There's not a bad day to buy more poetry, whether it's purchasing a collection by one poet, an anthology by several, or subscribing to a literary journal or poetry magazine. Throw some money into that hat for all them hard working poets.
Recite (or read) poems in public.
Do it on your own, or get a team together of two to 20 poets to read poems in public parks, at laundromats, outside gas stations, or on city sidewalks—maybe next to your chalk poems.
If you have other ideas or have experienced other random acts of poetry, please share below. The more random the better.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff. He’s also the author of the poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems.
Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.