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
In 2017 the great Zen poet Norman Fischer had this Facebook post: Poems are not necessarily supposed to do you any good. People think that poems have some meaning embedded in them and that the meaning can do you some good. But I think it’s the opposite: if poems do...
From Margaret Lee: My kids think I am hopelessly antiquated for sending email and actually reading the messages in my inbox every day. But when I double down on the whole retro mode and mail postcards, those cards end up on each recipient’s fridge for approximately 15...
From Zach Charles: I would like to take this space to do two things. One: reflect on lessons from last year’s fest. Two: set some intentions for myself for this year's fest. My first thought upon casting myself back to last year's fest is of community building. I love...
Sally Hedges-Blanquez Poetry Postcard Fest tips
From Judy Kleinberg: If you’re a newcomer to the Poetry Postcard Fest, you may be uncertain about the “right way” to do this crazy thing of writing and sending poems on postcards. Let me just assure you: there is no wrong way. That said, from the perspective of...
The Poetry Postcard Fest is my most consistent experience with what Paul (Paul E Nelson, founding director of Cascadia Poetics Lab and co-founder of the postcard fest) calls “practicing spontaneity.” Intellectually, I know what spontaneous creativity is....
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.
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.