It happened! As the Poetry Postcard Fest begins, the universe has bestowed me with a gift. The winter ‘97 issue of The Kenyon Review, produced from an unlabeled cardboard box of mostly chewed up cookbooks on a walk with my partner and my dog, just for me to cut up and paste on my postcards.
When I was around ten years old, my uncle, when he was teaching me how to hit a baseball, also began to teach me about poetry, though neither of us realized it at the time. The phrase he repeated, amongst other instruction such as swinging a bat is similar to throwing a punch, was “skill leads to luck.” The subtext being that if you practice the right way, and you play the right way, good things will find their way back to you. Singles, doubles, a lucky bounce, a home run. You just have to keep swinging the bat with the proper intention, and a beautiful poem will come out in the crack of its contact with the ball.
It is these layers of meaning, discovered over time, that show a good poem, but more importantly, reveal, again and again, a proper approach. So what is my approach that leads to the accidental discovery of old literature magazines? Eileen Myles speaks of “life as rehearsal for the poem…” Charles Olson talked about particularism. Ezra Pound spoke of luminous details. Paul Nelson was the first to teach me how poetry can facilitate the reconnection between mythos and logos, mind and body, person and watershed. All of this is vital to a well rounded poetic approach. Writing poetry on postcards every day for a month is one (brilliant) way to synthesize all these distinct ideas, and to show they are, in fact, simply points on the same spiral of a life lived with careful attention and careful intention. A life where I take the time to dig beneath the chewed up cookbooks to find the old lit mag, and get excited about the prospect of cutting it up – and sending those fragments out to share in that joy with the larger poetry community.
Registration is still open at: https://cascadiapoeticslab.org/ppf-2023-event-registration/ but closes soon.