[an error occurred while processing the directive] [an error occurred while processing the directive]
The Envelope Project
[an error occurred while processing the directive]

In 2008, the Poetry Society of America brought the "Envelope Project" to New York City. The Envelope Project was created by John Waldman, a published poet and elementary school teacher from California, to integrate poetry writing, reading, and spoken word in an interactive activity.

Mr. Waldman begins by inserting a published poem into an envelope. He then writes the first line of the poem on the outside of the envelope. Participants use the first line as a jumping off point to compose their own poems. At the end of the project, participants share their poems and compare them with the previously hidden published poems from inside the envelopes.

Play the Envelope Project with friends, families, colleagues, and classmates on PIYP day and throughout National Poetry Month.

Learn more about this fun, participatory project (in PDF).


Special to the web this year, we invite you to join us on Facebook and play the Envelope Project via the official Poem In Your Pocket Day NYC page using the first line of one of the Emily Dickinson poems linked below.


  1. To play, select one of Emily Dickinson’s first lines and write your own original work. 
  2. When you’re through, click the hyperlinked first line and compare and contrast!
  3. Submit your first line inspired poem to poem@culture.nyc.gov and your work may be reprinted in Metro New York on Poem In Your Pocket day, Aprill 14th.   


The rules are simple: keep it clean and keep it under 250 words.  Along with your poem, be sure to send us your permission to reprint!

Select Your Emily Dickinson First Line!

A Bird came down the Walk
A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
A Solemn thing with the Soul
We introduce ourselves
I lost a world--the other day!
'Hope' is the thing with feathers
Dear March--Come in--
Exhilaration is the Breeze
Forbidden Fruit a flavor has
I started Early--Took my Dog
I robbed the Woods
I shall keep singing!
I think I was enchanted
I stepped from Plank to Plank
I dwell in Possibility
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
It was given to me by the Gods
The Robin is a Gabriel
I am alive--I guess
Much Madness is Divinest Sense
The Cricket sang
The Murmur of a Bee
The good Will of a Flower
The Hills erect their Purple Heads
Bloom upon the Mountain--stated
How soft a Caterpillar steps
Blossoms will run away
To see the Summer Sky