#CaringForCommunity: Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day

#CaringForCommunity is a new blog series that spotlights the work of writers, artists, or your next-door neighbors who, without being asked and without pay, carry the light in simple but meaningful ways. These are people giving back in order to lift others up. Real life examples of compassion, concern, and inspiration.

Today, Cristina M.R. Norcross shares about Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day, an annual event on February 20th, where the act of giving is in the giving of art.


Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day poster
Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day
February 20th, 2017
Join the Kindness Revolution!

~

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”
~Amelia Earhart


heart shapes hangingThere exists within all of us the need to reach out to others with an open heart. When we are offered a kind word, a helping hand, a patient ear, or an unexpected gift, our first reaction is gratitude – there is a softening that occurs. Perhaps our second reaction could be to pay-it-forward?

In 2012, the idea for Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day (RAPA) started with the brainstorm of leaving behind a “feel good” message for someone else to mysteriously find. I was in an Office Max store and decided to test out a roller ball pen by writing a mini poem on the scratch paper provided. With these words, I was hoping to encourage the next pen tester:

“And if your wandering spirit should falter, know that you are constantly being guided on your path. Follow your own star.”

At first, I felt a bit mischievous, but then I felt inspired. I took a photo of my scribblings and sent it to a few artist and writer friends with the question, “Do you think we could do something here, by spreading good vibes?” The response I received was an enthusiastic, YES, even before we knew how to bring people together.

Sonya S. Sinha's NYC maps and bands as giveaways

NYC maps & bands by Sonya S. Sinha

We created a Facebook page, with a simple summary of our RAPA Day movement, some sample photos of gifts, and some encouragement for others to take part.

2017 will mark our 6-year anniversary. We have had public school students participate, local arts councils, and writing groups. We have had artists and poets from across the United States, Canada, and Europe participate. With each year, our numbers grow, and we hope that this continues!

Chapbooks by Gary C. Busha

Chapbooks by Gary C. Busha as giveaways.

For those who are new to RAPA Day, some ideas from past years include: leaving behind free poetry cards at coffee houses, cafés and libraries; giving away mini works of art / handmade jewelry / pottery / knitted scarves or hats; and donating art prints and poetry books to non-profit organizations.

For our first year, my sons had the day off from school, so they helped me cut up strips of paper with quotes by Rumi, Hafiz, and Dr. Seuss. We would leave them on tables, benches, and even inside library books on shelves (shh, don’t tell our local librarian). I think the Dr. Seuss quote was their favorite:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
~ Dr. SeussThe Lorax

collage of giveaway gifts: earrings, bracelets, beadsI wouldn’t be able to spread the word about Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day without the help of my wonderfully talented team of organizers, which includes visual artists: Sonya S. Sinha (New York) and Jennifer S. J. Peña (New Jersey). Each year, we ring the bell of hope, in celebration of the art of giving. It is our goal to encourage and inspire others to give back through the arts. We have an opportunity to connect people through kindness and generosity. We also have an opportunity to remind people of the essence of being human – to give and receive from the heart.

We hope that you will join us for Random Acts of Poetry and Art day, celebrated every year on February 20th. And, we welcome you to share your photos and personal stories of how you choose to give on the Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day Facebook page.

PS! We are giving away bundles of 10 postcards (pictured below), per request, until we run out. Artists and writers can request a bundle by sending a message to the Random Acts of Poetry and Art group page on Facebook.

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Cristina M. R. Norcross is the founding editor of the online poetry journal, Blue Heron Review, and lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their two sons.  She is the author of 7 poetry collections, and her works appear in print and online. Cristina was one of the co-editors of the project, One Vision: a Fusion of Art & Poetry in Lake Country (2009-11).  She is currently one of the co-founders of Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day and is a regular contributor to the Art Ambush Project. Visit her website for more information. 


Do you have a #CaringForCommunity story to share? Contact me. 

About Christi Craig

Christi Craig is a native Texan living in Wisconsin, working by day as a sign language interpreter and moonlighting as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Family Matters Contest, 2010. You can send comments or questions via her contact page.
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