Alice Van Mill 2021 PPF Afterword

October 3, 2021
by Ryukan

I enjoyed participating in the poetry festival.  Although I only have received 9 poems so far, I can see the thoughtfulness in them. I will be looking forward to receiving more in the mail.  I have been having difficulties with shipments across from the US to Canada and suspect some are hung up there… I wrote haikus as my poetic practise.   I tried to make them sound natural, like an overhead dialogue.    I also did a few found Haikus, lifting phrases from online advertising. It is amazing to find that rhythm structure in something that we often overlook.      I looked forward to creating them each day.

I am a visual artist.   To me my art is a visual poem.  I hand painted 31 postcards in acrylic.   I did those as warm ups to my time in the studio.  It also felt like good kismet to release those paintings, and the Haiku into the world.  (You can see more of my work  here:

I wanted to start a discussion about copyright.   I don’t want you to think that this is a criticism in any way, but as a visual artist it is something that I think about.   After all, we want to protect artists, writers and their intellectual property.

In the art world the artist owns the copyright of the original work.  I appreciate that you are protecting writers by saying we need their permission to read their poems online.   However, that is probably true for the artists who are creating original artwork on their postcards.

What complicates this,  is that copyright follows the country of origin.

You could argue that if the work is sent out publicly on a postcard it has been published, but that follows for both writers and artists.

A solution to this could be a waiver included as part of the sign up.

I do appreciate that you asked for people to abide to permission requests.  It does get people thinking about copyright and who owns the work.  It honours the creators of the work.

Register for Year 16 now!


  1. Deborah

    Yes, as a photographer, I wonder about this as well.

  2. Mary Alice Williams

    I consider myself fortunate to have been a recipient of one of you originals. I agree that the images as well as the poems should be protected or used only with permission. Thanks, Alice.
    I have received more cards from group 14 than you have and 3 of the 4 missing are from Canada so I suspect it may be a mail service issue. I’m glad you received mine and that I received your original and a bonus.❤️

  3. Paul Nelson

    I entered a piece of mail art to an exhibition in Turkey. (See: and There were several provisos for submission. One was that I declared the work worth nothing. If it gets lost, there is no recourse. I made sure to scan both sides of my poetry postcard and it was accepted and I was delighted. (I had the work put on canvas and it festoons my library.)

    If one participates in the Poetry Postcard Fest, it is agreeing to be part of the gift economy. You give it up 31 works of art you created, each for one person, as a gesture. (Hopefully you get 31 back!) This does not mean the recipient now owns it and can sell copies of it. It means they get to keep it. They can also post a photo of it on their blog or on social media. You can sell copies, put your images in a book, sell a collection of postcards, whatever you like with the image you created. It is still your creation and no one can sell it without your permission, but it remains in someone else’s possession. If these realities are unacceptable, the fest is not for you. Having a spirit of community is essential and that requires a sacrifice.

    Yesterday I received a letter from a participant in which she said she had to prompt a person on her list to send her a card. This is awful. Maybe it was just my family, not particularly devout, who drilled it into my 3 year old head that “it is better to give than receive” but c’mon! Be happy with what you get!

    If you have images you created that are too valuable to just plain give to someone else, don’t send them.

  4. Sandi Jean Gajewski

    Alice, I love your artwork! Just beautiful pieces!! What a gift you have!

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