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Mayor Reads His Poem - Inspired by the Envelope Project - at Opening of the New York Botanical Garden's New Exhibition "Emily Dickinson's Garden: The Poetry of Flowers"

Yesterday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and actress Sigourney Weaver kicked off New York City's eighth annual Poem In Your Pocket day, which promotes poetry and literacy at schools, libraries and cultural organizations throughout the five boroughs. The inspiration for Mayor Bloomberg's poem, which he read at the event, came from the Envelope Project, a new poetry exercise the Department of Education has added to the curriculum of grades three, four and five. Students are given an envelope that has written on it the first line of a famous poem and asked to use it as the starting point to create their own poem. Then they compare it to the original inside the envelope. The Mayor was joined at the event, which took place at the New York Botanical Garden in conjunction with the opening of the new exhibition "Emily Dickinson's Garden: The Poetry of Flowers," by First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, New York Botanical Garden President Gregory Long, Poetry Society of America President Alice Quinn and New York State Poet Jean Valentine.

Launched in 2003, Poem In Your Pocket day was developed by the Office of the Mayor, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Education. It occurs the last Thursday of April as the culmination of National Poetry Month. A partnership with the Poetry Society of America, Metro New York, the Academy of American Poets, Bryant Park Corporation, and additional partners across New York City, Poem In Your Pocket day promotes poetry and literacy at schools, libraries and cultural organizations throughout the five boroughs.

To encourage all New Yorkers to write poems and share them with friends, family, co-workers and classmates, Mayor Bloomberg asked followers of the @NYCMayorsOffice Twitter account to send twitter-length poems, or "poetweets." The Department of Cultural Affairs created a Poem In Your Pocket Day NYC Facebook fan page, encouraging fans to submit poems based on the first lines of Emily Dickinson poems.

A sampling of poetweets sent to @NYCMayorsOffice :

@AKorolkova: Blood in my ears, thump!Pits pouring/Sweat like clouds do rain/Legs like rubber, coffee flying/O yes!I made it on the train.

@ benven : New York New York, you're big, bold and brash/Nothing keeps me away - except volcano ash!

@ youngerman :Ain't so gritty, kinda pretty, With springtime love I tweet this ditty... a mobile ode to new York city

@ jessicadelfino : I play music in the subways/to make NYC a better place/Mr. Bloomberg, don't forget/to hop off the 6 train for a quick duet

@ Gscott1847 : Yankees and Mets, who's the best? When fall comes and leaves change, the trophies they bring show us who's king!

Mayor Bloomberg's poem was inspired by the first line of Emily Dickinson's: "'Hope' is the thing with feathers":

"Hope" NYC
By Mike Bloomberg

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That makes our City soar
It will take us to the future
As it's carried us before

Hope is the thing with feathers
That travels all our streets
It sings in every language
It sometimes even tweets

And though we may not see it
It perches everywhere
In new shops and small businesses
In every schoolroom chair

It could be our famous pigeon
Or fabled red-tailed hawk
Hope is the thing with feathers
That flies throughout New YAWK

This year, the Department of Education made poetry curriculum available through their on-line educator resource for use by teachers, parents and students throughout all five boroughs. The Envelope Project" was created by poet and educator John Waldman and brought to New York City in 2008 by the Poetry Society of America.

Bryant Park will present its 7th Annual Open Mic Poetry Slam featuring New York City student poets. Commissioner Levin, Chancellor Klein, Bryant Park Corporation President Dan Biederman, and Department of Education Director of Arts and Special Projects Paul King, will all read poems at the event.  Playwright and Composer Daniel Kitrosser will emcee the event.  Selected as the NYC Student Poet Laureate in 2009 through the NYC Voter Poet Slam, a joint project of the New York City Voter Assistance Commission and Urban Word NYC, LaGuardia High School Senior Zora Howard will serve as Youth Master of Ceremonies at the event.  Special guests from the Nuyorican Poets CafĂ© and DJ Flip Bundles will perform. 

In addition to taking Poem In Your Pocket day national for the 3rd year, New York City-based Academy of American Poets reissued the Poem In Your Pocket day-inspired poetry anthology, Poem in Your Pocket, which is available at CityStore. The compilation of 200 classic and contemporary poems is designed to allow readers to easily tear out a poem to carry and share. More than 100 poets are featured, from Claude McKay to Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Poem In Your Pocket day Highlights:

  • Poets House handed out free pocket-sized poems throughout Battery Park City this morning at the Ferry Terminal at the World Financial Center, the Winter Garden, Whole Foods Tribeca, Barnes and Noble Tribeca and the Poets House Headquarters at 10 River Terrace.

  • Bryant Park Reading Room will host an Open Mic event for New York City student poets from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM.

  • Columbia University students, faculty, staff and community members will gather at the campus Sundial at 4:30 PM to share favorite poems.

  • Staten Island OutLOUD will distribute poems at Public Libraries across Staten Island.

  • The Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch will host a poetry reading featuring Rachel Levitsky, Rick Snyder and Karen Weiser in the Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, at 7:00 PM.
A comprehensive listing of Poem in Your Pocket day and National Poetry Month events, along with poems for download, are available at www.nyc.gov/poem or through 311.