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Poetry Postcard Festival 2014 Wrap Up

WP 20140907 006It was another great year for the August Poetry Postcard Festival! Organized by west coast poet and teacher Paul E. Nelson, over 300 people from a dozen countries signed up to write a postcard a day and send it to someone in the month of August.

As of today, I’ve received 22 postcards of the 31 expected. I imagine a few more will trickle in, considering the countries they are coming from may take a bit longer, and, well, if some were like me, that ‘poem a day’ promise might have slipped a bit. I did send a couple out a few days into September.

But I did send all 31! And it’s an amazing feeling to be doing it, struggling to do it some days (maybe a few times even resenting the guilt feeling when I didn’t do it), and when it’s all done, feeling a bit forlorn.

The premise is simple but challenging: put a poem on a postcard and send it. Postcards aren’t that big, so it’s not that much to write. Still, the intention is to just sit and write daily – a necessity writers understand as such but still seem to struggle with as if some kind of luxury.

My own poems came to me in two ways. On my morning walks, I might see something that would cause me to reflect on the image and feeling in language, or a line would simply jump into my head, like this one: “It was summer when you said you would…” That’s not a line that has any connection to anything in my life, it was just language that formed that thought and then became the poem about broken promises. As soon as I got home from my walk, I’d be jotting down lines, then rummaging for a postcard and getting it down as a poem.

The other way the poems came to me was simply sitting down with the postcard and writing using the image on the card as a kind of prompt. Sometimes I wrote on the front of the card right on the image, sometimes on the back. But it was from my mind to the pen to the paper. The only editing I did happened when I reread the poem and would scribble out or correct a mistake, or simply try to make the writing more legible.

I type up and save all of the poems I write. I make note of who I sent them to and the date as well as any notes about the card that may have prompted the poem. Going back and rereading these for the past seven years is a fun reflection. There’s some really bad poetry in there, and yet, there’s some pretty good stuff too.

And what else I have is a box of great poetry from other writers. I love going back through those cards, from so many people from so many countries. Some were famous then, some have become famous since. Some are unsigned and I’ll never know who wrote them. But all of them are truly wonderful works – not just as poetry, good or bad, but in knowing there are so many others out there who would do this. Who would take time from their day to get themselves to write and to share. It’s an amazingly warm and comforting experience to feel this kind of connection with total strangers. But then, isn’t that the power of poetry? Of poets?

I’m happy to have completed PPF 2014 and appreciative of all the others who did the same. I look forward to this event every year. Huge thanks to Paul Nelson for taking it over.

See you in August 2015!

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