Judy Kleinberg Confessions graphic

Confessions of an excessively organized postcarder (Judy Kleinberg)

July 6, 2023
by Splabman

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!

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

8 Comments

  1. Mary Beth Frezon

    Fabulous write up. I do the same, putting it all in a spreadsheet with a couple extra columns for date sent, received and notes. I highlight the addresses from other countries to remind me to add postage.

    I scan my outgoing cards which helps me verify that things went out and had stamps attached etc. whatever works for each of us!!

  2. Eileen

    I do keep track of what I send and what I receive, but the spreadsheet takes it to a much more organized level. Thanks for sharing.

  3. StanleydelGozo/Prematar

    spread sheet…wow…I just cover my list that I receive from Paul and I do mean COVER…hardly a space is left…I also put each out-going card on the computer and I keep a fest count and a cumulative count (got that idea from Paul early on) ie: today’s card is 12/62 and 736 total cards sent…and I always get happy both when I drop cards off at the post office (hand canceled & sent with love) and when I receive in my very happy mail box….

  4. Ruth Van Alstine

    I just found out about this fascinating project today from a poet friend. I am too late for 2023, but am going to get a jumpstart for 2024 and also share it with my poetry group! Looking forward to it!

  5. Karen Havholm

    I just today, in setting up my spreadsheet, thought I recognized a name. Sure enough I found it on my 2020 list. It had not occurred to me I’d get the same people in different years, with so many poets participating! Thanks for the tip on a separate list with all names sorted alphabetically, to check for this very thing.

  6. Penelope Moffet

    Interesting, Judy! I’m reasonably organized, but not that organized. As a confirmed Luddite, I do everything by hand. I print out the list from Paul, write at the top left “Sent” and at the top right “Received,” and put check marks as things go out and come in. I copy the poems I first-draft onto the backs of the cards into a small notebook, and I write a brief description of what’s on the front of each card. I use a mixture of commercial cards and my own drawings. If it’s a drawing of mine which I particularly like, I photograph the drawing. Each year’s postcards received, the notebook and the list go into a file folder rather than a shoebox, but I admire your shoebox.

  7. Denny

    Hi Judy. Thanks, I received your printed card of S’s with the great poem on it.
    Although I consider myself to be disorganized & a luddite to boot, the fact is that I’m rather organized in my own way, more so with what I send than with what I receive. I do keep all the post cards I receive together for each year but that’s about it. For what I send out I try to keep up with a fairly detailed record. I have a hand written list of whom I have sent a card and beside it I write the first line of the poem sent. I make a phone photo record of all the cards I send front & back. I’m also transcribing those poems, (which are nearly always written in the moment & so I don’t know where they’re going), in a file on notes on my phone. I think its probably better to scan everything but I’m not good at that or used to it. So the camera roll is a default. My plan is to further construct a record then in a file on the laptop but I’m pretty far behind.
    I make all my own cards & they are all one offs & although this year I’m making most to a post card format, they are stiffer & heavier than standard stock & I worry about delivery so I just put two stamps on everything. One thing I am planning to do this year is to send everyone two cards. But the second card will be a standard post card. It’s just something I want to try. Because I’ve never been able to just let a post card be a post card. Either I make one or I alter one. That’s my M.O. & I don’t know if I can let it go but maybe if I’ve already sent one that I made I can roll with that. I’ll find out.

  8. Arthur Tulee

    I am okay organized. No spreadsheets, no database, no collation, no importing to Word or exporting to Word. I like being beach bum/jazz hipster/grunge generation almost a ramshackle poet. I pour my effort into selecting the postcard/writing to occupy the blank space. (There were years I forgot to sign my name…)

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