(August) Poetry Postcard Festival 2020

So many months at home. So many postcards. So many poems going out in the mailbox and quite a number coming into my mailbox too! Here’s the two groups of cards (two “groups” or “months” worth) that I have received to date.

I started the festival early this year, in April. I had misgivings because April is not August but it is Poetry Month and I had committed to writing a poem every day as I usually do in April for NaPoWriMo. I laid this down as my caveat for starting early, because I post those publicly each day. But I figured, the recipients of these cards may not be expecting a card in April and well, no one really looks at my blog. I figured it would all be good.

So I started writing. I’d been home since March 4, the first couple weeks of that with some illness. In April there wasn’t much to do except online work “stuff” and sitting outside to paint and watch the world. I started carrying a pocket sized notebook and actually writing down phrases or ideas that came to me although normally I compose on the computer. I have often jotted a digital note or done a voice recording of an idea on my phone but there was something nice about scribbling down an idea. I quickly realized that the process was much better if I at least tried to be legible in my scribbling.

In the past I have written in a form or with a theme for NaPoWriMo or Poetry Postcards. This year I had no set ideas along those lines. What developed really surprised me. My poems developed a trend of being double sonnets. Like, I could not fit a great number of these daily poems onto the back of a postcard at all. I started using blank postcards, perhaps with a little watercolor swirling on the front, and putting the start of the poem on the front and continuing it on the back. For someone who tends to sonnet length and haiku, this was amazing. One was even three sonnet-lengths long, two being all 5 syllable lines and one being all 7 syllable lines! Where the heck do these things come from?

Now, we are encouraged in Poetry Postcard Fest to write “spontaneously” on each card – to write that day’s poem directly on the card. I confess, I have never done this. I write directly into BBEdit on the computer, in a file for that month’s poems. No more editing than one might do scratching out a word as you’ve just written it. No later fussing. This gets backed up a couple ways. I copy it directly onto the card. No edits. The address gets put on the card. A stamp. I wander downstairs, scan the front and back of the card and carry it out to the waiting mailbox.

Rarely, perhaps a couple times in any postcard/poetry month I might write something I think is a little too personal or one I feel uncomfortable sharing. Usually I can put it aside and write out something else in a short while. Or I will write a second poem or set of haiku using something about the first one.

I look forward to the daily ritual of writing, copying it out onto a card, making a digital copy and then bringing it out to the mailbox. I love going outside late at night and this is a wonderful excuse to go out – to mail off a handwritten poem to someone who doesn’t expect to get this particular poem. Oh yes, I know they hope to get something in their mailbox! Who doesn’t?

I wrote daily in April, most of May, a part of June and then it seemed I needed a break. I waited for August and it was hard to pick up the pieces of the process because that excitement had been in April. It was all right and will be again. I chatted with the other poets and sent a few cards and got close to the actual place where I was on the second list of names. And so I started writing again with the sense of deadline and someone waiting. And I started getting more cards in my own mailbox as people started their August Month of Poetry Postcards which lingers on into September. We were all needing some support and strength and it was good to talk about our lives and the world.

I have a tradition of writing a special poem for August 31 and sending it to everyone in my group. Day 31 still gets their own poem though! I used part of my free time in August to think about that and work on it. After I’d addressed all those cards I thought about all the different people in all the different places they were going. I hoped that my first cards had made it to them safely, maybe even that they’d been enjoyed along the way as well as by the recipient. I send a card to my two local postmasters as thanks for their help and to some bonus folks out of PoPo. That is something I really enjoy doing.

In September I took a rather intensive online watercolor class which sort of kicked my butt and head for two weeks about painting with intention. In theory, this is hard when you start and then should get easier. As the class was ending I realized there was a poetry class available about spontaneous writing and that seemed to fit into the deep thinking I was doing about intentionality and flow so I took the leap and signed up for that. I’m not sure what will become of me but I will carry on and have already signed up for August Poetry Postcard Fest 2021.

Signing up for the future is like planting bulbs – a pure sign of hope in the world!

(August) Poetry Postcard Festival 2020

Summer Doldrums

Yes apparently this time of year I wander off and do – not much.

I’ve been working – from home, and adjusting to this more and more. It’s nice to have lunch just a few steps away. My commute is up or down a flight of stairs. I miss the audio-book time but I don’t mind having that time back.

I’ve been painting (you people doing Instagram can find me using mbfrezon) and writing because it’s officially August Poetry Postcard Festival again, although this time, having started in April, it’s more just PoPo 2020.

I’ve been taking photos, and reminding myself to be grateful for things large and small, often small. Tomato and corn season has arrived along with local peaches.

When I started working from home, I moved (strong like bull) the AC to the room where I’m working, in hopes that I could not pass out from heat. I rigged up a doubled sheet over the door and left just a few inches open at the bottom, and made a looped way to keep the door open just open just wide enough for cat whiskers. Ginny and Harry come in to visit. They plop themselves down and are generally quiet. Sometimes they jump up to surprise me but Ginny often lays in the sunny window and Harry finds himself a soft place even if it’s just a sheet of paper.

Thinking is more stinking than drinking, but to feel is for real.
— Sufi Sam

Nothing can resist a human will that will stake even its existence on the extent of its purpose.
— Benjamin Disraeli

Summer Doldrums

August, Must be Postcard Poetry Fest!

That’s a hard corner to turn, from World Watercolor Month to August Poetry Postcard Fest, but here we are day two already. Two postcards sent off already and FIVE!!!! already received!

Tonight I was pretty desperate to paint so I pulled off at Kristy’s Barn and spent time with the swallows watching the sun do its thing.

Here are all of tonight’s photos:

Sunset August 2 2019//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.
— Henry Miller

August, Must be Postcard Poetry Fest!

World Watercolor Month Days #25 and #26

Not sure how I forgot to post my bit of watercolor yesterday but here it is. I have a new palette and I’m debating how to set it up, so I’m still messing around to see what colors some new possibilities become when mixed with other more known players. Seems to me that if you’re going to have another palette it should be substantially different in some ways from the other ones you’ve already got going. I don’t know. On the other hand if it was wildly different from what I commonly use, chances are I wouldn’t use it? Ack.

Yesterday I received my first postcard for the August Poetry Postcard Festival. Today I received postcards #2 and #3. They blew me away, humbled me and filled me with gratitude.

World Watercolor Month Days #25 and #26

Sunday’s Paints

I headed off pretty early to the Berkshire Botanical Garden where a lot of people were wandering around looking at plants. Chatted with some nice folks, and noticed that just like the days of sitting with raffle quilts at shows, it is often the MEN of couples passing by who stop to chat and see what you’re doing. So fascinating. Anyway, people stopped, young and old, to chat and talk about what I was doing and what they do. The roses smelled great and a lot of flower beds were coming into their prime.

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and a final paint in my front yard after a nice dinner with Mom. If you haven’t signed up for the August Postcard Poetry Fest 2019, there’s still some time – registration closes July 4th!

Resolve in advance to persist until you succeed, no matter what the difficulty. — Brian Tracy

Sunday’s Paints

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Thirty

There may be one more. Or not. This was started in the wee-small hours. I appreciate all the visitors and all the poems that were shared by the April poets!

The Last before May

Why, April,
are you so fickle?
holding back words
pelting down rain
and even snow
You’ve teased and
tossed your head
and now trees are
clouds, rolling waves
upon the hills
now green again.
But you, you dance
and sing
and wave
and go again.

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Thirty

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!

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