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Serious Fun: How We Spent Take Your Poet to Work Day

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take your poet to work silverstein

Serious fun.

It’s one of the things you can count on at Tweetspeak Poetry. In fact, our site first started as a result of joking between friends. We operate under a banner of Self-Fulfilling Comedy. So much so that when in the midst of a virtual staff meeting on a Monday morning, an editor cracks a joke about celebrating Take Your Poet to Work Day, mental notes are made and ideas are revisited, until one day we’re publishing poet cut-outs for happy (or soon to be happy) workers to put on sticks.

Because here’s something we hold true: a moment of play in the midst of our very serious lives can be simply that, a moment of play. But sometimes, it can be a link in a chain of events that ultimately enables us to discover and become who we really are.

Just this week, in fact, I overheard the managing editor say we aim “To take seriously our whimsy. To live in our laughter.”

On Wednesday, July 17, we celebrated the very first Take Your Poet to Work Day, and folks carried their poets on a stick into workplaces (and play places) around the world. Here’s just a sampling of the fun we saw on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram:

Emily Dickinson

We understand that extreme introvert Emily Dickinson had major reservations about the day. In fact, from her covert Twitter account, she informed us beforehand that she would likely be unwilling to participate:

emily dickinson on floor by laura brown

Of course, Dickinson lovers were not to be deterred. Chances are that there were more sightings of the reclusive poet than any other yesterday. She was brightly colored, taped, and carried off despite her protests. Well, but there was Laura Brown, who discovered after searching for the poet all day long that she had thrown herself face down onto the living room floor while Neruda and Eliot went happily out the door. We also saw Dickinson eating sandwiches and ice cream, hiding out in various pencil cups, enjoying the fair, and reportedly breaking office equipment.

   The ferris wheel, Miss Emily?

It’s not that Emily was prickly, exactly.

Emily broke stuff. Maybe.

Emily really just wanted to work from home.

A surprise twist:

Emily was last seen retreating behind the security of her door:

Some of the Other Guys

take you poet to work rumi with teaWe saw the other poets scattered all over the internet, though we heard rumors that perhaps Rumi and the Haiku Masters felt left out. Megan Willome was sure to remedy this by inviting Rumi in for tea on the morning after, saying on Facebook, “Rumi felt left out yesterday during Take Your Poet to Work Day, so I invited him over for some silver needles jasmine tea. He said it’s all good, all love. Something got lost in translation.”

Other poets were seen in the office, the popular pencil cup resting place, shopping, attached in various ways to their hosts, and even the pool.

Ann Kroeker reported that Poe was “troubled by the greeting card poetry.”

A couple of fellas made time for a panel at the Tin House seminar:

Tip for next year’s Take Your Poet to Work Day: Zip-Loc your poet if you take him to the pool.

 

Perhaps there’s a reason Rumi didn’t get the love:

Some gang activity:

 

And Poe and Eliot go salon:

Here’s how it’s done:

If we learned anything, it’s that poets seem to love coffee.

The Poet-on-a-Stick Seen ‘Round the World

We were delighted to have participation from around the world. We started the day bright and early with this montage from Adelaide Festival in Australia:

happy take your poet to work day copy

Folks also celebrated in Ireland, the UK and Israel. We saw tweets in Spanish, Dutch, French, Czech, Hebrew, and Turkish. Poetry International and the Poetry Trust got in on the act, as well as Poetry Foundation, the New York Observer, The Atlantic and the Paris Review.

So Many Poets, So Little Time

We offered a handful of dressed-for-work poets. Many creative folks, not finding their very favorite, made their own.

And some things just made us laugh.

The Raven had an albino cousin?

 

 

 

Mathew Block planned a full day for John Donne, including a trip to the airport. Click through to see the rest of Donne’s adventures for the day. Donne-on-plane Adam Webb made an astute observation in the comments at Tweetspeak:

This brilliant initiative has unintentionally raised awareness of an important problem in modern workplaces: lack of sticks.

So, yes. Serious play. All over the world on Wednesday, grownups took the time to cut out and color a poet. They took their poet on a stick to work, and at various times during the day, played. This is something we all need. Play is, as I was reminded yesterday, “permission to love.” You might not see that any better illustrated than with the way Heather Eure put T.S. Eliot to bed after a long day of #takeyourpoettoworkdayproblems.

Indeed, Mr. Eliot. Sweet dreams.

T. S. Eliot  Poet Sleeping

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Cover photo by Sonia Joie. Post by Lyla Willingham Lindquist.

To see more of the Take Your Poet to Work Day fun on Twitter, check these streams: Take Your Poet to Work Day and #poettowork
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Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In July we’re exploring the theme Rock and Roll.

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Your Comments

21 Comments so far

  1. Donna says:

    FANTASTIC!!!! What a successful first! I laughed my head off on Twitter yesterday and now Lyla this post had me howling and my mother looking at me out of the corner of her eye!

  2. I was hoping there’d be a recap! Just all kinds of happy, Lyla.

    And guess what I found this morning, deep in my pantry–popsicle sticks! My poor poets had to use bamboo skewers to get out and about.

    P.S. There are albino crows. They are very rare, thought to have mystical powers (duh!).

    • I noticed the longer sticks on your poets. Almost commented on it, and couldn’t find a way to do so without it sounding like a bad joke. ;-)

      The recap was quite a project on its own — so, so much good stuff out there. I wish we could have featured all of it.

    • Donna says:

      Megan I am so happy that you were able to spend some quality time with Rumi. I still feel bad about forgetting to bring him with me! He would have enjoyed the gardens here in upstate NY. ;)

  3. Love this! Definitely qualifies as a great success.

    Underneath all those words, poets just want to have fun.

  4. L. L. Barkat says:

    I am touched by the alternating depth of delight, creativity, artistry, and even poignancy that this engendered in people.

    The world needs simple things to celebrate together. This seems to have been one. I am beyond happy.

  5. What an unexpected delight this was for me. And visiting my mother up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this gave us quite a happy diversion into a world of whimsy and wit. We colored our Milne together, read Pooh together, and acted silly and roared in laughter. Just when I thought I was having withdraws from all the deliciousness, we sat at the breakfast table this am and read this re-cap. Lyla and LL. there is healing in laughter, community and poetry. My mother suffers from dementia. To see her laugh and smile with me over this project is a memory I cherish. Thank you for birthing riotous laughter in our home.

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      I am catching my breath a little over this, Elizabeth. I feel like you just discovered something new that enlivened her memories and psyche. What other children’s books and pictures and songs might open up these hidden places?

      And who doesn’t love to laugh. So glad you found that too. :)

    • Oh! Elizabeth! I quickly scanned this post on my phone, but am just now reading the comments. Take Your Poet to Work Day was so much more fun than I could have imagined–of course, what do we expect when Lyla and LL conspire together?

      But then reading this. This is so beautiful–healing laughter. What a gift this day was to you and your mother. What a gift you’ve given in offering a glimpse into it.

  6. davis says:

    total creative fun!

  7. annamlee says:

    Hi Lyla. We had a poet on a stick, too. Her name is L.L. Barkat. She went with us to the sheep barn and to church while we did Operation Christmas Child boxes. All of us kids watched while she rang the bell at our church.

    Anna Lee :)


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