June 18, 2023
by Splabman
The Poetry Postcard Fest is my most consistent experience with what Paul (Paul E Nelson, founding director of Cascadia Poetics Lab and co-founder of the postcard fest) calls “practicing spontaneity.” Intellectually, I know what spontaneous creativity is. Intellectually, I believe Natalie Goldberg’s claim that “The aim [of writing] is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by…the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what you mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see or feel.” But putting spontaneity into practice can be a struggle.

During the 2022 fest something changed. The reality of spontaneity had finally bored a hole through my brittle, stubborn shell-mind. August ended and I just…kept going. Typed out tiny poems – two, three lines – most nights before going to bed. Sitting in a parking lot waiting for the end of my kid’s school day/practice/music lesson, scribbling into a tiny, empty notebook that I’ve carried around for ages. I wasn’t conscious of what I was doing. I wasn’t Writing Poetry. I was just jotting down words that I haunted my right ear or appeared behind my lash line.

The document of poems is now about 15 pages long. The notebook is half full. On a whim, I sent a few into the world, and they’ll be published in the coming year. But my point here isn’t “Oh, look, here’s a formula so you can publish your poems.” That’s the anti-point; that’s the ego and the rational, practical mind. The point is: beautiful things happen when you and your internal editor take a break from one another. Your free, creative mind can do beautiful things if you let it, and the Postcard Fest is an amazing way to unfetter that creative mind, let it rise.

— Ina Roy-Faderman



  1. JadeLi

    Good idea to carry the book around with you.

    I’ve been writing them in the morning, just after waking up, while sitting in the usual spot on the couch, with one cat in my lap and one next to me. I keep the notebook and pen there and just start writing and limit it to 5 or 6 lines. It’s before the thinking brain kicks in and the ego and superego are still asleep. It works!

  2. Ina

    Jade, I LOVE the idea of grabbing that moment while the ego is still asleep. (and now I’m having a “morning person envy” moment!).

  3. Kay Murphy

    Let me riff on Jade’s scenario (which sounds so lovely!): My first moments after waking involve feeding and walking my dogs–at 5:00a.m. I’ve taken to leaving the poetry notebook on the kitchen island because when I return from those quiet, only-our-footsteps-on-the-pavement walks, I invariably bring with me a few images and phrases that are free-falling from my (briefly) unfettered mind. And just now writing this, I’ve remembered one from this morning that I never wrote down (“The world must stop for me”), so thank you!

  4. Barbara

    So much looking forward to doing this !

  5. Diana

    Great post. Here’s to the unfettered creative mind!

  6. Ina

    Paul, what a great idea for a sonnet (I have to find 14 walkable blocks here!).

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