Last week, Johanna Hynes with Perseus Books Group shared this post through social media. I asked if I could share it with you, and she agreed, saying, “It’s a fabulous promo lots of stores could undertake without much trouble.”
Then I reached out to Mary McCulloch Fox, the poetry buyer and poetry events coordinator at Mrs. Dalloway’s, an independent bookstore in Berkeley, CA, who gave me background on Mrs. Dalloway’s annual Pocket Poem Giveaway.
“Eight years ago, when the Academy of American Poets announced the beginning of an annual National Poem in Your Pocket Day in April, I loved the idea of our bookstore joining in the celebration. I launched Mrs. Dalloway’s annual pocket poem giveaway during National Poetry Month,” she says. “To make the pocket poem giveaway project exciting and fun, I decided to support our renowned local poetry community by reaching out to San Francisco Bay Area poets.”
Every April since then, the store celebrates National Poetry Month by offering customers handsome, giveaway “pocket poems”.
The poems—selected by Bay Area poets—are carefully formatted and then professionally printed on lightweight, cream paper by a press in Berkeley. The folded Pocket Poem opens to the poem, along with all relevant information—title, poem, author, book title, publisher, date, printed with permission by, etc.
Last year, Mrs. Dalloway’s printed 10 different poems and gave away 3500 individual pocket poems for customers to carry, unfold and share with co-workers, family, and friends on National Poem in Your Pocket Day in April. This year the date is Thursday, April 30.
“Our pocket poem giveaway introduces hundreds of people to new poets and poetry, drawing customers to our bookstore from all over the Bay Area,” says McCulloch Fox. “Sometimes, a pocket poem offers our customers work from a not yet released publication. And our store has been acknowledged in newly published work.”
In 2009, McCulloch Fox received an Award for Outstanding Event by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association “for creating a lively program of poetry readings that have included the well-known, the off-beat, and poets at the beginning of their careers, and for the innovative Pocket Poems giveaway program.”