What minor, gracious things do others do for you that make you happy?
Think about not only your closest family and friends but also acquaintances or strangers in your community, on your daily commute, at school, in church, at your job or anywhere else you spend time. Consider, too, the online worlds you are a part of. What small kindnesses by others — some perhaps so small you barely notice them — lift your spirits?
We ask this question in honor of National Poetry Month, for which we’re trying something new: We’re inviting you to contribute to a collaborative poem on this theme! To participate, just use our comments section to post a few lines of your own poetry about the small kindnesses you appreciate.
Collaborative poetry is an old tradition. You may know about the game “Exquisite Corpse,” which the French Surrealists invented in the 1930s, or the epic collective poem “La Familia” that Juan Felipe Herrera, the U.S. poet laureate from 2015 to 2017, created with lines submitted by people all over the country. Or you may have heard a collaborative poem on National Public Radio. Kwame Alexander, N.P.R.’s “poet in residence,” has created crowdsourced poems responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, anti-Asian hate and more.
For our own collaborative poem, we’re drawing on The New York Times Magazine’s long-running Poem column, which features new verses every week. In September 2019, the column featured Danusha Laméris’s “Small Kindnesses,” chosen and introduced by the poet Naomi Shihab Nye.