Poetry Postcard Fest
Is an annual literary event and self-guided workshop in spontaneous compositionwhere people sign up to send 31 original poems on postcards to folks on a participation list before the end of August. The Fest was initiated in 2007 by poets Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers, and has grown to include poets participating worldwide. Registration opens annually on September 1.
Poetry Postcard Fest News
Allegra Brucker Interview
On September 15, 2022 we caught up with Allegra Brucker and talked to her about her participation in the Poetry Postcard Fest. She learned about the fest via Diane di Prima and still has the instructions she received in 2007. She also shared a number of cards with us...
Postcard Open Mic
We had a wonderful Open Mic for Poetry Postcard Fest participants Saturday morning, September 10, 2022. The sense of community was palpable and it is always nice to meet the people behind the cards you received. Our count was 22 poets. Video is linked below and...
Postcard Fest Open Mic Saturday, Sept 10 9am PDT
Did your card get there? Could anyone read your handwriting? Do you want to try to match a postcard poet's face with their handwriting and poetry? Maybe that all could happen at the Postcard Fest Open Mic. OPEN MIC Saturday September 10 there is an open mic for...
2023 Postcard Fest Registration is Open
The 2022 Poetry Postcard Fest is over & ends with the largest participation in 16 years. 17 total groups tie the 2020 expanded pandemic fest. Doing the math and assuming all participants will send out 31 cards, that's 16,864 postcard poems that were sent in 2022!...
Alive Alice Glover Interview
The 2022 fest is winding down and registration for 2023 begins on September 1. A new postcard poet saw my stash here at Casa del Colibrí and said: "I'm going to get intro Group 1 next year!" Yes, the hardcores sign up right away. And what could be more hardcore than...
2022 Postcard Fest Stats
The stats are now final for the 2022 Poetry Postcard Fest. Participants: 544 The highest fest participation in 16 years, matching the pandemic year, 2020. Countries, 12: Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand,...
Photo by Chad Peltola on Unsplash
The Poetry Postcard Fest
Postcard by Germán Montalvo
This is the official page for the Poetry Postcard Fest.
The Fest was initiated in 2007 by poets Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers and involves people signing up to send 31 original poems on postcards to folks on their list before the end of August. In 2021 there were 519 participants in over 14 countries. Registration opens Sept 1 each year. See this essay in Rattle Magazine about the fest:
Once you are registered (click here to register) here are the INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Obtain or make at least 31 postcards, one for each poet on your list.
Some people make their cards. Many places can turn your pictures into cards, as can any decent print shop. DO print on decent card stock.
2. After you register, and once your group has filled,
you will get a list via email and pdf. Find your name on that list and please make sure your info is correct. (You will not get your group list at registration, but when there are 32 in your group or when registration ends.)
3. Once you get your list, start writing original poems directly (1st take) onto postcards addressed to the names below you on the list of poets.
(If you are #8 on the list, start with #9 and proceed from there.) Just like you’d write a typical postcard, only this one is a poem and linked to the epistle form, as you are writing TO someone. The idea is to practice spontaneity, that is write directly on the card in one take. If it’s hard at the start of the fest to do that, relax, because it gets better as the month goes on, no one can publish your poem without your permission and you are writing to a PERSON. Review the links below for guidance ESPECIALLY the sending postcards to strangers blog post by David Sherman, the Ina Roy-Faderman testimonial and Linda Crosfield’s 7.14.16 blog post. Remember Allen Ginsberg’s paraphrase of the Blake quite: “Abstractions and Generalizations are the plea of the hypocrite, knave and scoundrel.” Or as Ezra Pound said: “Abstractions must be earned.” Really.
4. Once you have written cards to all poets below your name on your list, continue to the top of your group of 32.
Ideally you’ll be incorporating themes, tones or motifs from cards you have received. If you do not get cards from participants right away, or are not inspired by them, no problem, but do write at least 31 postcard poems if you sign up. This is on YOU dear Poetry Postcard Fest poet.
5. DON’T POST YOUR OWN POEMS ONLINE UNTIL A MONTH AFTER YOU SEND THEM.
Also, do not publish anyone else’s poem without their written permission. Having a scanner helps to archive the image perfectly and scanners are now $100. Or you could take a photo of the image (or scan it) with your cellphone. Do realize if you are sending a card abroad, it may take longer than a month. Do not disclose any participant’s address online.
6. There is a Facebook page for the Poetry Postcard Fest but it is best to let the cards speak for themselves during the fest. Social media is a soul-sucking invention and your poetry needs all the soul you can dedicate to it.
You might want to write after the fest about your experience. NEVER spam the list about any product or service, including your books.
7. The fest is open to people who contribute at least $15.00* U.S. to the Cascadia Poetics LAB.
I want to be a resource for you especially if you are trying to make the shift from relentless editing to learning how to develop trust for your instincts. This is the force behind the fest and, I think, the reason that it has grown in popularity over the years. Contributions are welcome. *The suggested fee goes up June 4. If money is tight, ask for a scholarship. Some generous fest regulars add extra for people who are just getting by financially.
8. Ina Roy and J.I. Kleinberg and I have created a postcard anthology.
To ensure you’ll get the annual registration call, subscribe to this blog.
We send out an average of two emails a week from this blog, PaulENelson.com and Cascadia Poetics LAB, the literary arts-oriented non-profit org founded in 1993.
9. Other pages nearby worth a look regarding postcards and spontaneous composition
are on the drop down nav button below the Poetry Postcard Fest link above and here:
- 2019 Wrapups
- Amy Miller’s 2016 Fest Wrap-up.
- Or Amy’s 2018 wrap-up.
- Judy Kleinberg’s 2014 fest summary with links to other participant blogs.
- Her 2015 fest wrap-up.
- Angélique Jamail’s 2018 afterword.
- https://paulenelson.com/2013/06/24/the-tao-of-postcards/ and
- https://paulenelson.com/workshops/poetry-postcard-exercise/ and
- https://changeorder.typepad.com/weblog/2010/08/sending-postcards-to-strangers.html and
10. The Poetry Postcard Fest is supported by SICA-USA, the Subud International Cultural Association.
This is the cultural wing of my spiritual community and produces Zoomuse Poems for Peace.