I wouldn’t say I’m obsessive, but I definitely trend toward organized. So when it comes to the annual Poetry Postcard Fest, I like to stay ahead of the chaos.
My methods work for me. They would probably drive someone else crazy (possibly you). But if any of this helps you get through the Fest, please feel free to borrow!
- Get stamps. Get thee to the post office before the rates go up next week. (You should have your list now or very soon, so be sure to get enough international stamps.)
- Prep your postcard stash. I use a variety of commercial and self-made cards, all within legal postcard size limits (4.25” x 6”). I have a pretty wide array to choose from each day, in a box on my desk.
- Keep a record. Okay, here comes the organized part. Each year, I put together a chart (in Word). Four columns: Poet, Postcard, Poem, Notes. The Poet column has a row for each person on my list, complete with their name and address (plus a few extra rows for bonus cards). When I send someone a card, I note the image in the Postcard column, and copy the text of my poem in the Poem column. When I receive a card, in the Note columns, I write the date, the opening words of the poem, and a bit about the image on their card (this makes cards easier to find; see step 5). When the exchange is complete with each person, that row gets a pale green tint, so it’s easy to glance down the page and see whose cards are missing. (I also have another file for all years where I list each person, name only, and which card I’ve sent them so I don’t send them the same card again. But that’s troublingly obsessive.)
- Use labels. I like to give my cards the best possible chance of getting through the mail, so each year I make mailing labels. I set up a template and use Avery Address Labels 5260. I also use return address labels that have my name, address, and URL.
- Stash your cards. I found a large sturdy shoe box is just the trick for storing cards. It’s surprising how many times I’ve wanted to look back at what someone sent me in a previous year and been grateful not to have to go through hundreds of cards.
Listen. The reality is that you can have a really fantastic postcarding experience if everything is in a heap on the floor, so don’t fret the fussy stuff unless you really want to. I received my first card for 2023 yesterday (thanks, Denny!) and wrote my first poem today. Happy postcarding!