Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The August 2009 Fest is Over!

September 1 already. The velocity of our time is one of the most remarkable drugs I have ever known. All 31 of your cards should have been sent out by now. (I am one behind, argh!) If you're like me, you transcribe them, or scan them, & that more than doubles the time the whole process takes, but it's worth it, right?

The bad news: There was one spammer this year, who got onto the list to aid their own marketing efforts. (Ask me for a great John Andrew Rice quote on these kinds of people!) Is anything so pernicious as to do this? OK, maybe bombings and torture, but these kinds of people have to start someplace! Also, many folks typed up poems and stuck them to the back of cards. If you have NO penmanship, this is a viable option, but I think people took the easy way out and composed traditionally and then, when satisfied, stuck them on cards. This project is an experiment in letting go of the need to be perfect and learn to train your mind to compose in the moment. Philip Whalen said his poetry was "a picture or graph of the mind moving."

This is the most difficult type of composition, as it very much reveals the quality of the poet's mind. Usually, there is not a lot there, and that's unfortunate. One person typed up excerpts from poems and even generated address labels with a computer. Why even bother? To take time to think about a person, to have an impulse fleshed out from idea to epistle in a few short minutes once a day for a month, to carefully write out their name and get the card in the mail, this is such a rare gesture in our velocity-addled culture. The postcard project allows for something SLOWER, something more deliberate than most of what we get from our industry-generated culture. If you do the project the way it's supposed to be done, you give yourself and others a gift. After 30 days you can feel the difference. Something has shifted.

This year I used quotes from John Ashberry's book "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror." I never attributed the quotes, but I wonder who took the time to google the specific quote and see its source when they got the poem? I could imagine the other person being interested, or not, based on how interesting the quote was. This, in my own way, was an effort to create a dialog with the person receiving the card. A little gesture of consideration. Are these things becoming lost in our world, or just extremely rare?



Diane G said...

I confess I'm one of those who usually printed out the words of my daily poems, which would have otherwise been unreadable unless I wrote 6 word poems I could print big. One thing I did this year was Google my recipients and sometimes found inspiration there, writing a poem to them in particular, possibly in response to one of their poems online. That did be fun! ( Ignatow) I also got on a roll with a topic that stretched itself across more than one postcard and a couple of times liked something enough to send it to more than one person. Never have been the best rule follower in the world, although I tried to stick with the spirit of it all and write something in the moment, every day. I received 16 postcards altogether and sent 31. Am curious to know if that's typical? Wonder what will happen to this project w/o Saturday delivery. As it was I mailed two on Mondays. Guess I'll have to mail three next time . . . or four . . . or . . .

Tammie Lee said...

I have just found out about this. It sounds like fun. I sell my photography as greeting cards. My business is called Spirithelpers. To receive a beautiful card in the mail uplifts ones spirit, especially these days when so few people mail cards. Especially handwritten and addressed cards/letters/poems. I hope I remember this next year, that is if you do it again.

jillypoet said...

I received about 15-16 cards, also. And I mailed all of mine--a little late, but all done. It was the best poetry project for me. I feel like I made good use of my August when I might not have been writing at all.


Poet Hound said...

I mailed all of mine diligently, and received 13. Today a straggler arrived in the mail! It was fun, and I uploaded pictures of some of my postcards to my Facebook page for friends and family to see what I was doing. The project has also become part of a local dance studio newsletter, my instructor thought it was a fascinating idea. I hope to do this again next year, I had a blast!

patricia said...

I got the 31 out and received 20, which is pretty good. One was simply a greeting, the rest real efforts. this was a great exercise, and I typed up my poems AFTER composing them on cards, so I have a bit of a record of what I sent out. When winter settles in I may go through the list and do more. This was a great exercise. Thanks for dreaming it up!