Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What I Did This Summer-August Postcard Poetry Festival

Many of you are aware that I have been writing poetry for a few decades now. Often it isn't intentional and as someone with a lot of ideas about what is and is not "real writing", my ability and affinity for poetry has sometimes been personally embarrassing for me. When I rhyme, I worry I am plagued with the knowledge that I learned well before college how uncool naff and uncool rhyming can be (not to mention, I feel a bit like having Tea in the Sahara with Sting). When I don't pay attention to rules of rhyme or meter, I think I am a huge fraud. Basically, no matter how feminist my brain may be, in my heart, I carry around the fear of the cool boys' disdain for "girls who write poetry." But I still write it when the urge strikes.
As some of you may know, I have a fairly extensive postcard collection and, as many of you may recall, there was a period in the early part of this century when there was a kiosk at many bars/restaurants which were filled with advertisements masquerading as postcards or postcards masquerading as advertisements, depending on how you view capitalism and art and the intersection of the two. As a collector of postcards, I tended towards the latter, at least from a collecting standpoint, as even if they were advertisements, they could be addressed and mailed, so they were postcards. Some of the artwork on these postcards was really great and I often acquired more than the one or two I would need from a collecting standpoint which means I have boxes of duplicates. 
Naturally when I found out about the August Postcard Poetry Festival back in May or June (spring was so long ago) I had a bit of an epiphany. Poetry and postcards? Dude, that's like getting chocolate in your peanut butter! 
The rules of the festival are simple: sign up, get a lis of names and addresses, write a poem directly onto a postcard with as little planning/editing as possible, send the poem to a different stranger from the list every day in August.
Of course, when I actually delved through the boxes of duplicate cards, I was overwhelmed by how, well, commercial the advertisements were. Even with the ones with super cool images, there was no way of getting around the reality that they were all selling something. And I started to wonder if I was on board just sending out sixteen year old ads to strangers and what that might say about my poetry. Then I started thinking about the stack of Allure magazines I have not yet thrown away because "I'm saving them for an art project." Could it be that the art project for which they had been saved might actually have arrived? 
Armed with scissors and glue and giddy with the possibility that I might not only create art, but I might finally prove to everyone in my house that I am not a hoarder, I embarked on my project.
I made a lot of collages and I wrote a lot of poems. I did not attempt to relate the image to the poem, tough I imagine that a connection can be found simply because I created both. Some days were easy, some days were impossible. 
It has been a compelling and interesting project for me. I needed to be reminded that I am a writer and artist. I am sad that it is over as it was an incredibly satisfying yet low risk way to flex those muscles and gave me an outlet for my work. A part of me thinks "I could look at the other lists of participants and mail them postcards" (I was in Group 7, which means there are 192 other people to whom I could send postcards and poems. However, I also feel relief that September is here as the unrelenting pace was starting to wear me out-I need some time to refresh my thoughts and work on something different. Maybe I will send some postcards and poems to friends-I already sent a card to Tracy, but mainly because the poem I wrote was so perfect for her, I couldn't stand the thought of sending it to anyone else.
The festival requests we wait a month to post any of the work, so I will be posting one a day as the month of September passes. There will be very minimal editing of the cards and poems because if I start to make little changes and adjustment, it will never stop and part of the reason I am doing this is to challenge my perfectionism. Obviously not everything is great (in fact, some of these I look at and know there is no way I would have sent them out now, which shows how fast aesthetic growth can occur). I welcome feedback as I can submit up to five poems and five pictures to the 56 Days of August anthology, so hearing your thoughts on the ones you like will help me narrow it down.

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