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PR- 138-08
April 16, 2008


Mayor Also Records a Poem for Callers to City Agencies - Initiative Promotes Poetry and Literacy in Schools and at Events Across NYC

In anticipation of the sixth annual Poem In Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 17th, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today published his first poem:

Press Conference

Pardon me, sir, I’ve a question or two …


Sir, you said poetry is a delight…


Reading it makes you smarter, more mature?


But is it better for people not to read verse?


Do you read sonnets?  Limericks?  Odes?


All these short answers.  Why?

I -

Follow-up!  What do you do in your free time?


Could poems appeal to the Press?


But can they help with traffic congestion?

Next question.

Mayor Bloomberg’s poem was published today in Metro New York.  The Mayor has also recorded a poem for New Yorkers that plays on NYC Radio and for phone callers on hold with City agencies.

Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages New Yorkers to carry a poem in their pocket and share them with friends, family, co-workers and classmates.  In conjunction with National Poetry Month, and in partnership with Metro New York, The Poetry Society of America, The Academy of American Poets, Bryant Park Corporation and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, this public-private sector initiative promotes poetry and literacy at schools, libraries and cultural organizations throughout the five boroughs.

New Yorkers who want to write their own poems should visit  The site features poet and educator John Waldman’s "envelope project,” a collaboration between the Poetry Society of America, the New York Public Library, and City agencies.  Project participants compose their own poems based on the first line of well-known poems.  Their poems are then recited and read side-by-side with the originals – an innovative way to integrate poetry writing, reading, spoken word, memorization and literacy.

The Department of Education (DOE ) has developed a special poetry curriculum for use by teachers, parents and students throughout all five boroughs.  During the entire month of April, the Department has conducted the PS Poem Campaign, which asks students to submit original works of poetry for publication on the DOE website.  More than 480 New Yorkers, including published poets and literary professionals, will volunteer in the schools on April 17th to share their favorite poems with public school students. 

Poem In Your Pocket Day Highlights:

  • The Bryant Park Corporation is hosting an open mic reading on April 17, 2008 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Bryant Park.  New Yorkers are encouraged to stop by to hear young poets from the city’s public schools, joined by NYU and Cornell University M.F.A. students, and writers from Urban Word NYC, LEAP, and America Scores.  500 books of original poetry will be distributed to high school readers and attendees, created and donated by Cornell University.

  • The Poetry Society of America has engaged more than 30 professional poets to conduct John Waldman’s “envelope project” at the City’s schools, encouraging students to compose their own poems based on the first line of well-known poems. 

  • Academy of American Poets has taken Poem In Your Pocket Day national – working with hundreds of bookstores, libraries and schools to promote poetry across the United States. 

  • Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing will donate 800 poetry books to elementary schools throughout the City.  Ten employees – including editorial, production and marketing staff – will read their favorite poems and talk about literary careers with students.

  • Alumni from Cornell University will read at Food and Finance High School on Manhattan’s West Side.  Donated copies of the Cornell poetry book will be distributed to each student at the school.

Cultural organizations and libraries throughout the City have planned dozens of events leading up to Poem In Your Pocket Day, including readings, discussions and open mic forums.  96.3 FM WQXR Radio is airing public service announcements promoting these family-friendly events. 

  • The Museum of the City of New York, Bronx Museum of the Arts, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Brooklyn Historical Society and the Staten Island Museum will offer free admission to anyone carrying a poem in a pocket.

  • The City’s libraries are undertaking important initiatives related to National Poetry Month and Poem In Your Pocket Day.  Highlights:

    • New York Public Library (NYPL) will publish completed poems submitted by the public, based on John Waldman’s online “envelope project,” on April 17th  at

    • Voices Unbroken and the NYPL are partnering on an exciting poetry writing and spoken-word program in Jerome Park in the Bronx.

    • Free poems will be available at the Staten Island NYPL branches, as part of the Staten Island OutLOUD Annual Poetry Giveaway.  Poems will also be available at the COAHSI Visitor’s Booth in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, Everything Goes Book Café, Historic Richmond Town, the Greenbelt Nature Center and the Conference House Visitor’s Center. 

    • Queens Public Library will host a workshop in Windsor Park led by the Teachers and Writers Collaborative, and a hip-hop poetry initiative in Woodhaven, led by Conceptual Elements.

    • Brooklyn Public Library will host a Russian poetry discussion at the Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture.

Special Appearances:

  • Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott will read favorite poems at IS92 in Queens.

  • Cultural Affairs  Commissioner Kate D. Levin will kick off the Bryant Park poetry forum at 11 a.m. with a public reading.  The Commissioner will also read poetry to middle school students at I.S. 131 (The Albert Einstein School) in the Bronx.

  • Parks  Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Marcia Lyles, and Bryant Park President Dan Biederman will join Commissioner Levin in kicking off the Bryant Park event with special poetry readings.

  • Councilmember Domenic M. Recchia, Chair of the City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, will read at the Mark Twain School in Brooklyn.

  • Educator John Waldman will be conducting his “envelope project” personally at PS75, the Emily Dickinson School, featuring all Emily Dickinson poems.  He will be joined by Executive Director of Poetry Society of America, Alice Quinn.

  • Renowned poet D. Nurkse will be leading a Waldman “envelope project” with imprisoned adults, featuring Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred.” 

A comprehensive listing of Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month events, along with poems for download and use on Poem in Your Pocket Day, are available at  Poem in Your Pocket Day event listings and sample poems can also be obtained by calling 311.


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958

Kate deRosset   (Cultural Affairs)
(212) 513-9323

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