Saturday, February 23, 2008

Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 17th

In Growing Gardens for Palestine, I think it is important to notice and feature Palestinian poets and art.

My email box is very full- it is hard to sort through all my messages, easy to lose what might be important. Names I know and love I click on right away. Priorities.

One of my personal priorities in life is poetry. Simply that- poetry. This week another one of those emails that I love to explore landed in my box:

National Poetry Month Posters on the way


It's hard to believe that February is nearly over but it's true--National Poetry Month is little over a month away. This year the Academy is celebrating with a nationwide Poem in Your Pocket Day. Find out how you can participate at

poster 08In other exciting news, the 2008 National Poetry Month poster has been printed and is on its way to you. If you don't receive your poster by March 15, please contact the membership department for a replacement.

As always, the poster is being sent free of charge to thousands of classrooms, libraries, bookstores, and individuals across the country, along with information about how teachers and students can take April as an opportunity to celebrate poetry. If you know of a classroom that would like a free copy, please encourage them to sign up.

Your generous membership donations are what allow us to provide this educational resource every year and, as always, we are very grateful for your support. Have a great spring and a wonderful National Poetry Month.


Audrey Ference, Membership Coordinator

To find out about poetry events, readings, and resources in your area, please visit our national poetry map.

For poetry books, CDs, gifts, and apparel, check out our gift shop.

Renew online or give the gift of membership. Your dollars make everything we do possible.


I duplicated the entire email so it can be explored at your leisure - meandering off where ever you might want to go. Personally I find the national poetry map quite intriguing. It's fun to explore and dream about where I might go someday. Ramblings I might take.

But what enchanted me most this week was not the map which I have seen and explored before but the idea-
Poem in Your Pocket Day


Poem In Your Pocket Day

Celebrate the first national Poem In Your Pocket Day!

The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends on April 17.

Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores. Create your own Poem In Your Pocket Day event using ideas below or let us know how you will celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day by emailing

Put Poems In Pockets

In this age of mechanical and digital reproduction, it's easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own PIYP day event. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Start a "poems for pockets" give-a-way in your school or workplace
  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  • Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
  • Text a poem to friends
  • Help us expand the list: send your ideas to


    They have so many good ideas- doable ideas...ways one person can easily help poetry be more important in an every day way.

    I like that- for poetry's sake. And for Palesitne's sake I am hoping that on April 17, people who care about Palestine, in helping to sow seeds and grow Gardens for Palestine any where they might be, well I hope people take the time and trouble to find and share a poem or maybe even many many poems by Palestinians. The Palestinians have been oppressed- and silenced in so many ways. So I think we need to make an effort to notice and appreciate Palestinian poetry.

    Write down!
    I am an Arab
    You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors
    And the land which I cultivated
    Along with my children
    And you left nothing for us
    Except for these rocks..

    from the poem Identity Card by Mahmoud Darwish - 1964

    Darwish has many other great poems too- poems for every mood.
    Please don't stop with just that one poem and poet- and idea... or theme. Let Palestinian poetry be alive in every sense and every way. Some poems are political, some are not.

    Do your own research- find your own poems- and feelings- your own mood... seek out and discover what speaks to you- says what you believe needs to be said in a way that you honestly appreciate. What grabs you and makes you feel more alive and connected. I don't want to be an encyclopedia here- I simply want to plant seeds for Growing Gardens for Palestine.

    A dear friend of mine sent me a note regarding "Growing Gardens for Palestine" when I was first bouncing ideas off her. I like to do that and I treasure her friendship. She has a brilliant mind and I can say anything and- well she's just fun to talk to. She is the Lady of the Links- always has something highly relevant that I will find intriguing. Her note to me:

    "Look at Nahida's family photos . . . especially the ones in which she poses with flowers to match her dress . . . these are so lovely. Look for the ones under "family and friends."
    I love the idea of gardens for Palestine. So many Palestinians have gardens where ever they are; what a wonderful feature story it would be. "

    I put my friend's words in green because with her help I always seem to be growing. Our conversations take me farther than I could ever go on my own.

    I was entranced and inspired by the photos my friend, The Lady of the Links, pointed me to. Some photos just seem to be a visual poem- the way the flowers are echoed in her clothes:

    wild ma!92AA638F9B6EA940!321/cns!92AA638F9B6EA940!1271/?ViewType=4

    The website, well worth exploring is called

    Poetry for Palestine

    nahida Izzat

    "I am -Jerusalem born- Palestinian refugee living in exile for over 40 years.
    I was forced to leave my homeland, Palestine at the age of seven during the six-day war.

    I am a mathematician by profession but art is one of my favourite pastimes, I love hand-made things, so I make dolls, cards, and most of my own clothes.

    I also write poetry, and participate in dialogues with known and unknown friends as I believe that communication is the first step of understanding, I believe in building bridges not walls.
    My shy and extra sensitive nature hinders me from public speaking, so I try to compensate for my shortcomings by writing!
    I started writing about three years ago when my friends insisted I should write about my memories, experiences, and my feelings as a Palestinian.

    I did… but it all came out -for some strange reason- sounding -as I was told- like poetry!

    So I self published two books (I Believe in Miracles, and Palestine, The True Story)"

    Nahida's profile sounds like a poem to me, so I'll leave it at that and move on.

    In sowing and growing Gardens for Palestine on a personal, private level, let's remember poetry- specifically Palestinian poets. While I very much like the idea of National Poetry Month- as well as the idea of creating events around Poem in Your Pocket Day, there is no need to wait until April 17th to put a poem in your pocket... Start today.

    And in growing our public Garden for Palestine, we've entered the garden through the key shaped entry, and we've noticed that there is a gift shop. And we've found brochures we can borrow or buy describing the herbs and honoring Arabic and Arabic calligraphy.

    Well there are also poetry contests- poetry for Palestine. And every year in April there is a bucket full of poems- poems free for taking and sharing. Pieces of paper, all different types. And on each piece of paper is a copy of one poem written either in, or inspired by, our Garden for Palestine. And intermingled would be copies of poems by famous Palestinian poets and well known Palestinian poems.

    You can sift through to find one that speaks to you most.

    And there would be weekly- if not daily poetry readings in a quiet corner somewhere in our public Garden for Palestine- all year round. Some of the readings would be for children with poems both by children- and for children. But no child would ever be forced to read- or listen to- any poem. Let them listen if they want- join if they want- but they have to be free not to too. Poetry in our garden should not be forced.

    And just as art gallery openings tend to serve wine and cheese and crackers, in our Garden for Palestine, let's be known for serving mint tea- and memories:

    Mint Tea
    By Mike Odetalla

    A Cup of Mint tea
    Holds a special meaning for me

    The fragrant flavor and smell
    Triggers memories

    That I remember rather well

    Of mothers beautiful garden in Palestine
    Filled with beauty and sites, truly divine

    The flowers, herbs, and vegetables...
    A vision so great
    From which I was torn away at the age of eight

    The mint plants were special in many ways

    They added an aroma that flavored our lives in countless ways

    The mint in my garden today
    Originated from a sprig in my mothers purse as a stowaway

    So with each sip of mint tea
    The memory and flavor of my homeland

    Is here with me…

    A sip from a cup of mint tea
    Is a sip of Palestine for me!


    umkahlil said...

    What a beautiful way to start my Sunday. An inspirational post, and a brilliant poem that evokes so many memories of my childhood growing up with loving aunts, uncles, good Arabic food, Arabic coffee, summers going from the garden, where we'd bring in tomatos, eggplant for our lunch or dinner . . . my mother, her sister, my sittie (grandmother) traipsing around the vineyards of Kern County, picking their grapeleaves for the season . . . my mother laughing as she recalls my grandmother who'd just come over from Ramallah, running around the vineyard as if she were a young girl. Keep these beautiful and inspiring posts coming; what a brilliant way to inform people of the beauty of Palestine and its people. Now I will make hummus for my daughter's birthday, recalling my father teaching me how to "break the tahini," as I stir and pound the bit of hard tahini left in the jar (I didn't make it to the Syrian store lately to get the nice smooth tahini one finds at the top of the jar). Then I'll cut into little pieces the leg of lamb for either putting on top of the hummus or the rice (Uncle Ben's, of course), and I'll remember my mother complaining how hard it is to sit and roll grapeleaves, and our neighbor, the manager of the local Sherwin Williams, who used to stir the tahini with the machine he used to stir paint, telling her, "Why don't you stand, then?"

    umkahlil said...

    I'd like to add some links here for some beautiful poetry. One must access the video (linked to below; scroll down to "Summer Camp in Bi'rim") to appreciate the beauty of the following poem as it's spoken in Arabic by the poet:

    Your beauty is God given
    Your beauty is God given
    A human being strains to describe it.
    North, south, east, west
    Vistas of hills and valleys
    When you tire on the way and feel thirsty
    You may drink of al-Safra from the well
    And on a dessert of figs you may feast
    Feast on a dessert of figs of Bayad and Ghazzali
    Tarry as you near the grapes
    And when you approach the vine
    Give thanks, and lift up your voice
    Your people, Bir'im have not died
    And will not forsake a grain of sand from you
    As long as you have men like these
    As long as you have men like these
    Who continually strive for justice
    they do not care what others may say
    And they always say to the oppressor
    Our Bir'im is more precious than money.
    And the return will never disappear
    We will return contented
    We will forget the bitter days.

    umkahlil said...

    "Kamel Nasir's Last Poem," translated by Abdel Wahab Elmesseri

    Beloved, if perchance word of my death reaches you
    As, alone, you fondle my only child
    Eagerly awaiting my return,
    Shed no tears in sorrow for me
    For in my homeland
    Life is degradation and wounds
    And in my eyes the call of danger rings.
    Beloved, if word of my death reaches you
    And the lovers cry out:
    The loyal one has departed, his visage gone forever,
    And fragrance has died within the bosom of the flower
    Shed no on life
    And tell my only one, my loved one,
    The dark recesses of your father's being
    Have been touched by visions of his people.
    Splintered thoughts bestowed his path
    As he witnessed the wounds of oppression.
    In revolt, he set himself a goal
    He became a martyr, sublimated his being
    even changed his prayers
    Deepened their features and improvised
    And in the long struggle his blood flowed
    His lofty vision unfolded shaking even destiny.
    If news reaches you, and friends come to you,
    Their eyes filled with cautious concern
    Smile to them in kindness
    For my death will bring life to all;
    My people's dreams are my shrine
    at which I pray, for which I live.
    The ecstacy of creation warms my being, shouting of joy,
    Filling me with love, as day follows day,
    Enveloping my struggling soul and body.
    Immortalized am I in the hearts of friends
    I live only in others' thoughts and memories.
    Beloved, if word reaches you and you fear for me
    Should you shudder and your cheeks grow pale
    As pale as the face of the moon,
    Allow it not to look upon you, nor
    feast on the beauty of your gaze
    For I am jealous of the light of the moon.
    Tell my only one, for I love him,
    That I have tasted the joy of giving
    And my heart relishes the wounds of sacrifice.
    There is nothing left for him
    Save the sighs from my song...Save the remnants of my lute
    Lying piled and scattered in our house.
    Tell my only one if he ever visits my grave
    And yearns for my memory,
    Tell him one day that I shall return
    --to pick the fruits.

    The original link to which I linked on my blog no longer works:

    umkahlil said...

    "The Land Across the Valley"

    by Laila Halaby with quotes from
    Rashid Hussein

    You always told me to remember stories
    About our village, and to remember
    The songs that carry the legends of our land;
    And to remember the faces of old women
    For in them is our history.
    Isn't that so?
    My father heard my words and turned away
    To look across the valley where our land is.
    "Teach the night to forget to bring
    dreams showing me my village,"
    he said and then was quiet again.
    His silence fell on us as the sun burned
    The stones we sat on. I tried to taste
    The breeze coming up from the valley.
    "And teach the wind to forget to carry to me
    the aroma of apricots in my fields."
    We looked to the other side of the valley,
    At the olive trees and red poppies
    Scattering the hillsides.
    "There is no God but Allah,"
    sang a distant muezzin.
    "And teach the sky, too, to forget to rain."
    My father closed his eyes.
    "Only then, may I forget my country."

    From a book for which I need to look in order to provide the correct bibliographical details.