August Postcard Poetry Festival 2018

Now that we’re safely within the borders of September, I can talk a little about this year’s August Postcard Poetry Festival. It was the twelfth year of the festival, spearheaded by Paul E. Nelson, and my fifth year of participating. This year, nine groups each with thirty-two plus participants from all over the world spent the month writing poems and sending them to others via a postcard. Some make a point of writing directly and spontaneously on the card, others select special cards to trigger their words or respond to poems sent to them, some spend time making cards to send out.

In the past I have chosen a theme or a poetic form for month-long projects like this. I often use my own photos or scanned images of my watercolors, but also use commercial cards, often funny, never related to the day’s poem. I do make a point of writing every day since to me this, along with the poetry itself, is the point of it – to write a poem every day and to send it out in the world to someone I probably don’t know and who will probably not comment past letting me know it arrived. I like this concept of putting a card/poem in my mailbox-outbox and finding the card/poem of others there. How brave it can seem to show someone a new poem, tempered only by the rough handling of the US Postal Service over a couple of days! This year I did have a theme of “ephemeral” in mind but it wasn’t always the topic. I often make a list of prompt words or ideas before the month begins to help me out on “stuck days”. At least once or twice in a month I have to write a second poem either because what comes out is totally non-postcard-sized or because it’s a little too raw or personal and I’d prefer to let it sit a day or two before sending it out. Sometimes those go out anyway.

My habit is to write the card itself at night and often the poem is written then too. This year I have taken to carry a tiny notebook in my pocket and jotting down the stray phrase which may become a later poem. I find if I don’t capture those either on my phone or in the notebook that they vanish as quickly as they arrive. In past years I’ve written the poem at lunchtime which gave me a sense of having done something productive that day but this year my lunchtimes were more about news and response. I did make a point of thinking about the poem-to-come on my ride home after work. Many nights I walk out to the mailbox very late at night and put in my card for pickup. It’s often a nice break to go out in the cooler night air and a chance to see the stars.

In the end, it’s the dailiness of the writing that is appealing and useful. The prospect of finding mail in my mailbox and being part of this circle of folks who are all doing the same thing is energizing and focusing. I love finding cards in my mail and like going back during the month to read them again.

When I sign up and get my group list, I convert it to a spreadsheet which lets me check off the ones I’ve sent. Being someone who would do that, I allow myself to check off the ones I’ve received too. Not because I worry about what I get or don’t – it’s just a Virgo bean-counter sort of thing. I used to scan my cards but now I take a photo front and back to document the final words and the card I used. If someone doesn’t get a card I send them the digital version. The cards I’m planning to send live in a little ziplock bag with stamps and gradually get replaced by cards that have landed in my mailbox.

In the past few years I’ve created a special August 31st card with its own poem. Last year I did a special eclipse edition instead. I share those with some who aren’t on the APPF list too, like my mail folks. I like the notion of this wave of cards going out in many directions all at once.

Yesterday I went through the two shoeboxes of cards and photos and saw I had more stamps stashed than I remembered. I have enough cards to hold me through a few more festivals! That didn’t stop me from placing an order for new postcard backs because I’d need them to use with the photos already printed and those to come. (it said I’d ordered 300 last year…). There’s another box that is just received cards. Future archivists, have a field day!

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Another circle

round the sun yes indeed. There and back again.

Finally today the internet guy came and fixed my pitiful internet connection. And then he called my cell phone from my home phone number – probably from the outside box… ah the wizardry of internet phone guys.

So here’s to another year.

Tonight Mom and I had dinner:

Also the world needs more serene cat photos:

An unexpected bonus of trying to paint the geranium is that it’s still in surprisingly good condition, as are my other two, because frankly I paid more attention to them over the summer. Most of the time that involved dumping out the extra water left by torrential rain but for the hanging one it still involved watering.

I had penciled some thoughts onto my pochade box but need to find a way to make them readible and permanent:

INTENT • CONFIDENCE • RISK • PATIENCE*

(Standard caveat applies here, Persistence>Patience although in watercolor you do need patience to let things dry or dry some before continuing.)

And then I need to get out and paint more. But I did survive another August Postcard Poetry Fest – thirty-one plus poems written and sent out to people all over the USA and world. It’s a fun group.

I became a member of the Berkshire Botanical Garden (formerly the Berkshire Garden Center) so I can drop in to paint over the course of the year. That’s the plan – add more places to paint.

The Seventh of August

It was really hot and humid today. I had thought to go out painting in the morning but decided to stay in and see if it cooled off enough to head out in the early evening. Had some real rain and close lightning for a bit and gave up on the idea of painting so I got some dinner instead. Then it was about 20 degrees cooler so I headed over to the local conservation area and took a bunch of photos. Now I’ve got to get a poem together for mailing out tomorrow.

7 august 2018//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

August Already?

That means it’s time for August Postcard Poetry once more. This year I really feel the struggle between words and painting/visual stuff, but will endeavor on. First a quote via Brain Pickings:

The world is violent and mercurial – it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. — Tennessee Williams

Today on Facebook we kept on keeping on but we put some extra effort into posting some funny stuff and we succeeded! Almost felt like the interwebs of days gone by but in these days having some funny stuff (even obligatory cat photos are good) is super important. I explored the web and the non-news-news awhile and just posted interesting and often pretty things. It’s all good.

In that vein, I have been lax in uploading and sharing photos of recent sunsets and clouds seen locally:

First, July 27, 2018:

27 July 2018 Sunset and Clouds//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

on an evening with a lot of still-coming weather.

The next night I went to a local conservation area after work and arrived just in time to take these photos. I then quickly set up my painting gear, put some cobalt blue onto paper to start the sky and promptly got rained on. (The good news – the next day I brushed the pages of the sketchbook with clear water and was able to remove ALL the blue and use those pages for something else!)

28 July 2018 clouds and approaching storm//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

And then tonight, wherein I stopped because of a band of huge towering white clouds which had moved far off by then. There were already a few people snapping away at the setting sun but I took a lot of photos of the rest of the clouds too.

4 Aug 2018 clouds//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

End of August Postcard Poetry Fest 2017

I got a lot of postcards and enjoyed the cards themselves and the words written on them. Some of the poems were striking, one gave me chills (in a good way) and all made the connection we all hope for: I sat down and came up with these words to send you, a thought, an image, a rant, a mysterious string of ideas… put them on this card, put your address and a stamp on it and sent it off into the world.

Sometimes you get an acknowledgement that the card arrived, sometimes a response from the recipient to the poem itself, but I never get too tied up about that. Postcards can go in different directions way too easily. One thing happened this year that may not have happened before, someone in the postal handling part of the postcard’s journey wrote a response on the card. Pretty sure they weren’t agreeing with the sentiment but wow – wrote on the card. That card took about a week or more to get to me, so I’m not sure if they pondered it for a few days or if it just took that long.

Be that as it may, my own August Journey was pretty smooth. I had written down a list of words to act as prompts in case nothing came to mind in the hour of writing. Sometimes in the past I’ve used a group of haiku as my fall-back on hard nights. This year a theme developed, not of my choosing, around the idea of “a place to stand” and it popped up over and over again in different ways. One night I started writing and came out with something that ended up 75 lines. Way too big for a postcard, even in its beginning. I excerpted it for the card.

A good month, now I’m ready to do other things. Stand by for photos and painting and travel and who knows what else.

Sunday out and around here and there

I went and procured tomatoes. Real ripe tomatoes. I needed a tomato sandwich and I needed it bad. I had a peach for dessert.

Diddled around at home for awhile and then went out late to the nearby pond and enjoyed the late day sun changing into evening. Painted a little just trying to capture something of the color and light. Took photos. Came home.

All in all a successful day. See the Flickr album for all the sights!

27 August 2017//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Now I just need to write out the two postcards for the weekend – how fast August has gone! August Postcard Poetry Fest has been very good both in the writing and in the cards received. Yesterday I got four cards – WOOT – and one of them had been “commented” on by someone in transit, presumably a postal worker. We often imagine people reading them as they move from poet to poet but someone sure read that one!

chasing clouds

The clouds today were big and puffy and fun. Here’s all the photos I took this morning on the way to work.

clouds 24 August 2017//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

And after a long day at work, and even though I should be writing a poem to send out tomorrow, I did this, which needs some drying before I can do some final touches.

Finally, you might remember recently I spent time marking my brushes lest I lose another brush in deep grass. So far so good. But, the other night while rummaging on youtube I had to back up because of this, giving me great joy that I’m not entirely crazy.

And finally finally, from the Quote Box:

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry. — W. B. Yeats