1. Leave poems where they’ll be discovered. Write a poem on the sidewalk with chalk, crayon it on your child’s lunch napkin, tack it on your market’s public notice board, or tuck it into a friend’s coat pocket.
2. Pull a poem from a hat. Romanian poet Tristan Tzara was denounced by his fellow Surrealists when he proposed making a poem by pulling words from a hat. Try the “Dada Manifesto on Feeble & Bitter Love” method.
Take a newspaper. Take some scissors. Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem. Cut out the article. Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag. Shake gently. Next take out each cutting one after the other. Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag. The poem will resemble you. And there you are—an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.
3. Dine with poetry. Linger over some beautiful lines as you savor each mouthful. The poems don’t have to be about food, but that can add to your pleasure. Find a rich assortment in The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink edited by Kevin Young and in Appetite: Food as Metaphor: An Anthology of Women Poets edited by Phyllis Stowell and Jeanne Foster. Or let these poems nourish you.
~”From Blossoms” by Li-Young Lee
~”Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo
~”Love Poem with Toast” by Miller Williams
~”The Invention of Cuisine” by Carol Muske-Dukes
~”Onions” by William Matthews
4. Sign up for poem-a-day sites. This month my wonderful library system is offering 30 days of poetry by email, featuring the work of local poets along with prompts for your own work. You may also want to subscribe to The Writer’s Almanac or Poetry Daily.
6. Play Exquisite Corpse. This strangely fascinating game was created by the Surrealists in Paris. To play with several people, each person writes a phrase on a sheet of paper, folds the paper to conceal the words, and passes it on to the next player to contribute the next line. Each participant must be unaware of what the others have written, thus producing an absurd but often delightful poem.
7. Let yourself fall in love with spoken word poetry.
~”Human the Death Dance” by Buddy Wakefield
~”Drunk Text Message to God” by George Watsky
~”OCD” by Neil Hilborn
~”Shrinking Woman” by Lily Myers
~”Accents” by Denise Frohman
~”Place Matters” by Clint Smith
9. Set poetry books free. Leave them where strangers can find them, perhaps a coffee shop, a hospital waiting room, a dentist’s office, a barber shop, or a muffler repair shop’s waiting room. If you’d like, register them with BookCrossing.com to see where they travel.
10. Take a poem into nature. It doesn’t have to be wilderness, simply under a tree or near water, and the poems don’t need to reference nature although these do.
~”Catechism for a Witch’s Child” by J.L. Stanley
~”The Silence of the Stars” by David Wagoner
~”The Seven of Pentacles” by Marge Piercy
~”Sometimes” by Sheenagh Pugh
~”Hum” by Mary Oliver
11. Hang on to poetic life lines. Some lines read long ago wait in our memories, rising to awareness at just the right time. The Academy of American Poets offers some time-honored life lines.
This line by art historian Bernard Berenson came to my mind recently as a friend struggled with cancer. “I would have stood at street corners hat in hand begging passers by to drop their unused minutes into it.”
12. Curate a collection of your favorite poems. If a poem truly resonates with you, save it. Print such poems out out and paste them in a lovely scrapbook, or copy them by hand in a journal, or calligraph them on fine paper, or (as I do much less artfully) keep them in a word doc. After a few years you’ll have a highly personal, completely invaluable collection.