Poem in Your Pocket Day 2017

Poem in Your Pocket Day – April 27, 2017 – is an international movement that encourages people to centre poetry within their daily interactions. On PIYP Day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, coffee shops, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem.

This annual initiative is organized by the Academy of American Poets, celebrated with a free downloadable PDF booklet containing contemporary American and – since the League joined forces in 2016 – Canadian poetry to share.

For your French pocket poem needs, check out the booklet created by La poésie partout for La Journée du poème à porter.

The 2017 Poem in Your Pocket Poets are: Ronna Bloom, George Elliot Clarke, Lorna Crozier, Amanda Earl, Heidi Garnett, Catherine Graham, Julie Cameron Gray, Cornelia Hoogland, Claire Kelly, Doyali islam, Canisia Lubrin, D.A. Lockhart, Ayaz Pirani, Sandra Ridley, Souvankham Thammavongsa and Anna Yin.

Grief Without Fantasy

by Ronna Bloom

What I lost
was not going to happen.

I had
what happened.

There was no more.

From Cloudy with a Fire in the Basement (Pedlar Press 2012)

Ronna Bloom has published five books of poetry, most recently Cloudy With a Fire in the Basement (Pedlar Press, 2012), shortlisted for The Relit Award. She is currently Poet in Residence at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Rona developed Rx for Poetry, in which she prescribes poems on the spot, and takes them to hospital waiting rooms, conferences, and bookstores.


by George Elliot Clarke

It’s today
That I can see
Daisies play
At being me.

Beaming gold,
They bend and sway—
Limber, bold,
Anarchic, gay.

Holding out
Their leaves like hands,
They don’t shout
Or make demands.

They’re quiet,
Quite, but not shy:
Their riot
Is their beauty.

If I seem
A weed to some
Eyes, I dream—
And flower I am

From Lasso the Wind: Aurélia’s Verses & Other Poems (Nimbus Publishing 2013)

George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate, was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, near the Black Loyalist community of Three Mile Plains, in 1960. A graduate of the University of Waterloo (B.A., Hons., 1984), Dalhousie University (M.A., 1989) and Queen’s University (Ph.D., 1993), he is now the inaugural E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. His many honours include the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry (2001), the National Magazine Gold Medal for Poetry (2001), the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award (2004), the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize (2005), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction (2006), the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (2009), appointment to the Order of Nova Scotia (2006), appointment to the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer (2008), and eight honorary doctorates. He has recently completed his three-year term as the City of Toronto’s Poet Laureate. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, but he also owns land in Nova Scotia.


by Lorna Crozier

Lucky the ones who work with animals close by,

the girl who gets up early—even at that hour

dust worrying the grass—before she goes to school

(this is my mother’s story) and pumps three hundred strokes

to fill the trough, two brown mares waiting at the gate,

their nostrils flaring with the smell of water from the well

and the smell of her all those mornings, until she is also

what they drink.

Lorna Crozier is the award-winning author of seventeen previous books of poetry, including The Wrong Cat, What the Soul Won’t Let Go, The Blue Hour of the Day: Selected Poems, and Whetstone. She is also the author of The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things and the memoir Small Beneath the Sky. She is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria and an Officer of the Order of Canada, and she has received five honorary doctorates for her contributions to Canadian Literature. Born in Swift Current, she now lives in British Columbia.

Ars Poetica 3

by Amanda Earl

A poem, not all poems, but some poems, or maybe just this
poem is uncertain, it falters. A poem crawls on its belly out
of shadow, but avoids full on sunshine. A poem is made
from ashes, nightmare, solitude, erasure, the unknown. It
names itself or it doesn’t. A poem cannot fully articulate or
understand the pattern of synapses made by the brain. A
poem is a long sentence or a line or a group of lines or a
school of images, a fish that swims through uncertain
waters. A poem overflows with metaphor or doesn’t. You
can write a poem. You’re allowed to write a poem because
you are. There is no reason. A poem is something in your
own voice. You don’t even have to call it a poem. It
belongs to Poetry or it doesn’t. A poem is concrete or it
isn’t. It uses abstraction or plays with cliché or doesn’t. It
negotiates white space on a page and navigates the air. It is
a linguistic gymnast or it’s clumsy, it stumbles, it is a blind
fumbler in a sky empty of stars. A poem is a way to
communicate with others in a language that comes from a
deep place inside you. A poem is made of words that are
mined like precious stones or unearthed like buried
treasure. A poem is pain gently exposed to the dawn, it
paints the sky red. It is brave of you to write a poem. To
share it with others. Somewhere someone is reading your
poem right now and understands just how you feel.

Amanda Earl is an Ottawa poet, managing editor of Bywords.ca, fallen angel of AngelHousePress, visual poet, mischief maker and fiction writer. Her first poetry book, Kiki, came out with Chaudiere Books in 2014. Further information is available at AmandaEarl.com and regular updates are supplied via Facebook at AmandaEarlWriter.

Wish List

by Heidi Garnett

I want to meet a blue parakeet that reads the future
pulling Tarot cards with one delicate outstretched foot,
the hanged man uncovered. I want to own a Corvette,
a 1960 red and white convertible hardtop
and drive around town with my dog Bud. I want
to write love poems as if world peace depends on them. I want
to shape each day like a clump of clay
until it becomes what my hands remember. I want
to see the turnings of things, who and where we already are,
light rising again in the east, the moon
climbing into the world through a trapdoor each night,
my attic a place of worship. I want to see a white-tailed deer
gazing at an inverted image of itself in a frozen lake
and just once the clearly marked tracks of a bobcat
breaking new snow. I want to go home
as if I never left. Like the sun I want to enter
through one door and leave by another.

Heidi Garnett began writing when she retired from a teaching career. She has been published in many literary magazines and won or been short listed for many important prizes including the British Arvon Prize, Arc Poem of the Year, Winston Collins Prize, etc. She launched a second poetry book, Blood Orange, published by Frontenac House Press in the Fall of 2016 and completed an MFA in Fine Arts with UBCO in 2010.

Boy and Lawn

by Catherine Graham

When I close my eyes I see
the weeds through his head.

Clover. Dandelion. Wild carrot.
Daisy. I wanted every day

to be Saturday, for the grass
to grow high like the waiting

inside me. Dad paid the boy
to mow. I watched him

turn aisles through my
bedroom window. His glasses

thick and black. I saw
those eyes close up. Green

hovered between us
like the spears on his grave.

From Winterkill (Insomniac Press 2010)

Catherine Graham’s most recent collection, Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award and CAA Poetry Award. She received an Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Toronto SCS where she teaches creative writing. She was also the winner of the IFOA’s Poetry NOW. Her poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Daily, The Glasgow Review of Books, LRC, CBC Books and elsewhere. Her sixth poetry collection, The Celery Forest will appear in 2017 as will her debut novel, Quarry. www.catherinegraham.com.

Dorothy and the First Tornado 

by Julie Cameron Gray

The sky is greening, foaming
like the top of a bubbling pot.
And look, see how the clouds

climb down to dance with us?
How the animals rush up to meet
them, and conduct the thrashing sounds?

The clouds want to circle
on their own, thick rounds
across the fields, growing near.

Shingles, rakes, shovels through
the air—so many things
learning to fly, or could they do

this all along? Come down
from the sky, you silly cows.
Come back to the barn, blown open.

First printed in Taddle Creek Magazine (issue 34)

Julie Cameron Gray is originally from Sudbury, Ontario. She is the author of i (Palimpsest Press, 2016) and Tangle (Tightrope Books, 2013), and has previously published in The Fiddlehead, Prairie Fire, Event, and in Best Canadian Poetry 2011(Tightrope Books, 2011). She currently lives in Toronto.

Like Sleeping Dogs

by Cornelia Hoogland

nose the neighbour’s house –
their wet snouts pointed

with light. It’s the moon’s
doing, milking
everything with such

cinematic fill

that shadow is
reduced to corners, to
snapping at heels.

Cornelia Hoogland’s seventh book, Trailer Park Elegy, is forthcoming with Harbour. Woods Wolf Girl (Wolsak and Wynn), was a finalist for the Relit 2011 National Poetry Award. Sea Level (Baseline Press), was short-listed for the CBC Literary Awards. Cornelia has served on international and national literary boards, was the founder and artistic director of Poetry London, and most recently, of Poetry Hornby Island, the B.C. Gulf island where she lives. www.corneliahoogland.com

First the Children Stopped Asking for a Ride

by Claire Kelly

Based on Lisa Brawn’s art project, Helio

When you coat me with silver leaf
             and loose me on the prairies
             stripped of the faded-paint saddle
                           that was all I knew of permanence.
                           Mice in their soft nests heaved into the cold.
             Wasp nests smoked and scraped out,
             my head hollow as the bromides I tell myself.
What buzzes my core now, only wind.

I once thought the coins
           in my jingle-jangle belly
           were my comrades, but they never stayed,
                        palmed hand to hand. Someone once
                        stuck tasteless gum behind my left ear
           like a kiss. Now that’s gone too.

           What next, where bison ranged
and where the sun tries to sink
its silly-wolf teeth into me?
          Where I’m empowered but untouched, play-
          thing, now art. A finicky relic haunted
                      by children’s boisterous voices.
                      Rays bouncing off like whatever you say
           bounces off meee and sticks to youuu?

Claire Kelly’s first full-length collection, Maunder, is available from Palimpsest Press. She has curated a chapbook of emerging Edmonton poets for Frog Hollow Press’s City Series. She lives and writes in Edmonton and is currently working on two new poetry manuscripts, one on moving to Alberta from New Brunswick, and one on contemporary loneliness

cat and door 

by Doyali Islam

                                                                                    For poncho

      one night, as i came in, the brightened hall                           a bird’s call  /  her ti-litt ti-litt  /  how all
  opened to him /           / he saw, almost dared                          of him leapt like light to light returning
to stride, sensed his limits, and his eyes were wide.                     darkness soon curtailed, curtained, his vision.
                    i shut the door. so there he crouches,                      was it a dutiful hand or a cruel
a creature in my mind, bent after new thought.                          master who gave glimpse of that golden wing?
                       was it inevitable, the key thrust,                            did he live by it, or die by it?
             the turn? i remember his pleasure at                              solidness suddenly a hushed measure –

Winner of the League of Canadian Poets’ 2017 National Broadsheet Contest

Doyali Islam’s poetry has been published in Kenyon Review Online and The Fiddlehead. She is the winner of Arc’s 2016 Poem of the Year Contest and CV2’s 2015 Young Buck Poetry Prize. Her poem “cat and door” won the League of Canadian Poets’ inaugural National Broadsheet Contest in 2017. Doyali’s full-length poetry manuscript is heft and sing; it contains formal innovations, including the poetic form that she created, which she has termed the ‘parallel poem’. Examples of her ‘parallel poems’ can be found in CV2 (34.2), Arc (79), and Unpublished City (June 2017). Ailurophile and minimalist, she lives in Toronto.

Big Data on February 8th
(A found poem in an e-mail inbox)
by Canisia Lubrin

—Final hours, Hudson’s bay extra
Secrets off your tickets
For Literature Matters, this confirms your order
Still early so reset your common globe
Save trouble viewing thieves in your address book
As podcasts abandon their smugglers

On Wednesday January eleventh twenty seventeen
Lost in the cold, the code. People looking at your LinkedIn profile

In February, an eighth of a sound as Obama says goodbye for good in group
email: off with your favourite scents. A piece on finishing a book, a name
or a woman’s trouble viewing. Wonder
who assigned your mobile device in the honest company
of the original Tintin?

The beautiful beginnings you can read on your iPad
For fifty percent off, If you cannot see this email,
Save an extra fifteen on gas. Free shipping on us for being
A loyal member liked one of your tweets, stories from Canada
& the world to come & add to your address book: see how well
You stand out from the crowd—

Canisia Lubrin was born in St. Lucia in 1984. She serves on the advisory board of the Ontario Book Publishers Organization and the editorial board of the Humber Literary Review. She teaches writing at Humber College, holds an MFA from Guelph-Humber, and her first forthcoming poetry collection is Voodoo Hypothesis.

‘Round Midnight

by D.A. Lockhart

The scene opens with fireflies
above an Indiana pond and rain
falling against leaves like hot shrapnel.

And you, alone with your pack of sparklers,
you with thoughts of Wes Montgomery,
sometime around midnight,

And you humming to the flickers
of those fireflies because they are tied
to the shrapnel and the four-four time.

And you know that this scene is a place
you’ve been before because at the rock candy
core of America we have all been here before.

And alone, you hum that guitar riff, hum it
as if you have played in every window-less
bar room in 1950’s Indiana Avenue Indianapolis.

And though you are nothing less than decades
late for that, you’re crystalized sugar core wants
to play happy to your vigil at this Indiana pond.

D.A. Lockhart is the author of Big Medicine Comes to Erie (Black Moss Press 2016). His work has appeared throughout Turtle Island in journals such as the Malahat Review, the Hawai’i Review, the Windsor Review, and OSU’s the Journal. He holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University – Bloomington where he held a Neal-Marshall fellowship. Lockhart is a member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation. He is the publisher at Urban Farmhouse Press.

African Masks

by Aya Pirani

As a kid I’d hate to lose my way
to the drawers of Ornithology or African masks.

I didn’t fancy the Mesa blankets
and said no to all the Walks of Tears, of Fears, of Hunger.

Best was to find myself in the Ice Cream Shop
or Gift Shop,

the white people’s diorama
in which they do not disappear from the Earth.

I still don’t like pinned butterflies
and pieces of petrified forest you take home in your pockets.

I don’t need to see the sunken treasure
brought to dry land.

It’s like if there’s a gem
on the Queen of England’s crown that I know

belongs to my bride,
you won’t see me just reach out and take it.

First printed in Tipton Poetry Journal (Summer 2016)

Ayaz Priani was born in Musoma, Tanzania to parents born in Kapsabet and Tanga. He grew up in Canada and studied Humanities and Writing. His degree is from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where Ayaz was a student of the late Jack Myers. His first book, Happy You Are Here, was published in 2016.


by Sandra Ridley 

—an excerpt

(Wakeful bareness) / we’ve seen you of this place

As the raw—such / denial / undiscerned as an echo

Unsought and left behind / the ghosted / skyward

As the essential / sylph / shadow / detached from

A great shade / shale eyes / released to darkening

Night / only you are present when the heart stops.


From Silvija (BookThug 2015)


Sandra Ridley is the author of four books of poetry: Fallout, Post-Apothecary, The Counting House and Silvija (BookThug 2016). She has taught poetry at Carleton University and has mentored poets through Ottawa’s Supportive Housing and Mental Health Services “Footprints to Recovery” program for people living with mental illness. In 2015, she was nominated for the Ontario Arts Council’s KM Hunter Artist Award for Literature.



by Souvankham Thammavongsa

We used to have this poster on the wall. It was
an advertisement for Minute Maid. A row of
orange groves. It went on top of billboards
and was sealed inside the glass of bus shelters.
The poster gave my parents a different view
than the one we had outside our window. We
had only snow and the exhaust pipe from a car
parked just outside. It was made of paper that
didn’t tear. Even if you tried. From afar, the blue
in the sky and the green on the ground looked uniform.
Up close, they were together a thousand little dots.
The blue was made of blue, but the green was of bits
of blue and yellow arranged on top of each other.
The yellow came first and then the blue. It was
the distant looking that brought them together,
that filled the space between them. This poster
was our future looking in on us, but we didn’t see.
We didn’t see how inside it would be my mother
picking oranges in those fields. Her nails cut short,
dirt underneath quarter-moon shaped. And her hair
would feel like straw and half her face would sag from
a stroke. She says not to think on too much of it,
she can’t taste anything on one side except bitterness.

First printed in Taddle Creek Magazine (Issue 38)

Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of three poetry books, Small Arguments (2003), Found (2007), and Light (2013). She has read her poems at the Guggenheim Museum, in New York, and has been in residence at Yaddo.

My Accent

by Anna Yin

It is charming.
I assure you,
I assure myself; and choose to believe so.

Languages have colors.
I want to show you my tender blue.
But you cut off with fork and knife,
quicker than my chopstick taps.

My accent grows trees, trails and winding roads to
westcoast landscape.
It points to the open sky;
yet clouds are too heavy
and form raindrops.

My papers collect them
then dry in silence.
I have hesitated many times
before speaking;
now it develops teeth.
Even with gaps between,
I decide
       …this is my voice.

from Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac (Black Moss Press 2015), first printed in Arc 73

Anna Yin is Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate with seven poetry books, including Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac (2015) and Nightlights (2017) both were published by Black Moss Press. Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTY Awards, a 2013 Professional Achievement Award from Cross-cultural Professionals Association of Canada and two scholarships from West Chester Poetry Conference etc. Her poems have appeared on Arc Poetry, The New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio and World Journal and Poetry East West etc. She teaches Poetry Alive at colleges, schools and libraries. Her website: annapoetry.com.