How to write a postcard poem

1. Find a card.

You may have a stash of them. You can get cheap tourist cards anywhere, nice art cards at museum gift shops, antique cards at thrift stores & garage sales. Of course you can even make your own card from blank postcards or even the back of cereal boxes.

2. You got the card. Write the poem.

I start with the date, where I am, and the person to whom I am writing. I always start writing the address and write the poem. I understand this is going to one person, the person to whom I am addressing the poem. This then, is a considered an epistle. Sometimes it’s a confession. Sometimes the image on the front of the card has nothing to do with the content. (Sometimes I do not recognize the link right away.) Sometimes it’s an ekphrastic based on the card’s image.

3. Document.

These are poems that are to be sent out, but I recommend scanning each card you send out for your own records. (Maybe at the end of August you’ll have enough good poems for a chapbook.) Scan your postcard poem into a Word doc and type the poem into the document for best results. (Some handwriting is better than others.) Try to get all the line breaks right on the document version.

4. Stamp and Mail.

Out of the country requires more postage, remember. Canada is another country despite Walt Whitman’s best efforts. You may start collecting stamps even though you do not need letter stamps to send an average size postcard. Always check with USPS to ensure you have the right stamp for your postcard.

5. Write again tomorrow.

If you’re struggling for inspiration, follow your muse! Write from your feeling, or situation, or about a museum visit you just made. You can respond to a line in a postcard you receive. It is not important that you are usually not responding directly to the person who sent you the card. This is part of a larger community conversation.

6. Wait for cards to arrive.

Read them (savor them) and use them for inspiration for the cards you write after that if you like.


7. Post Poems on your Blog.

Wait until September, or at least 30 days after you sent a poem. (Longer for postcards going to another country.) Never post anyone else’s poem without their written permission. Never disclose someone’s address online. Posting images is ok.