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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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.

Friday Night Excitement

There I was, writing a too-long poem for August Poetry Postcard and… a bat appears.

Let me just say, I moved pretty darn fast. Locked myself in the bathroom while I tried to figure out what to do, having no cast iron skillet handy (family legend) When I’d put on shoes and steeled myself I opened the door and contained it and escorted it without further incident to the great outdoors. Hope it’s gone in the morning. Only hurt myself a little in the process of vacating the bedroom LOL.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the too-long poem or just write a short bat one LOL.

Focus…. On What?

People sometimes tell me – you’re so focused. Yes that’s true. Th downside is that sometimes it’s hard to change gears or shift energy to something else that wants or needs doing. I offer this only as a lame explanation of my absence the past week or so.

it’s August Poetry Postcard Fest 2017, the eleventh for the month-long poetry writing, postcard sending group activity. It’s my fourth year I believe and it’s a daily cycle of hoping to write a poem at lunch, getting something written by late night and usually out to the mailbox around midnight. It seems particularly hard this year to do that and other things like painting and blogging and being a world citizen all at the same time. I’ll figure it out.

I am struck though by the difference in describing things in words and doing it with paint and paper. I’m not sure if one is anymore realistic or true emotionally but they are different.

I’ve done things. Painting, words, stuff. I did fix up my brushes so as not to lose them in the tall grass.

I am doing a “secret” project for postcard poetry and feel, although I’m sure it’s not true, like I created a great new technique. All in the interest of getting some consistent results multiple times.

And a little painting, but bigger than normal:

sunset

That’s all for now!