Friday, June 25, 2010

Postcard project

The concept: write a daily (more or less) poem on a postcard and mail it to someone. You will, in turn, receive a postcard poem ("poemcard"?) from someone.

You need not be a professional poet to do this. It doesn't require an MFA or publication credits. It requires only some postcards, postage, and your willingness to engage in creative play.

I’m indebted to Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers at the August Poetry Postcard Fest for this concept. As of this writing, I don't know whether they'll be doing their postal fest this coming August. I don’t mean in any way to steal their thunder. I just want to give more people (including myself) the opportunity to participate in this sort of project.

I'd like to start mailing on July 12, though I might have to wait a bit if I don't get enough participants. If you're interested, the instructions on contacting me are at the end of this post.

Here’s the process:

--Find yourself at least 20 unwritten-upon postcards. You might even want to make your own; if so, make sure you meet post office regulations concerning size, shape, etc.

--On the appropriate days--Monday through Friday of the experiment’s four weeks--write a poem on the card. That is, you’ll be creating a poem--not copying someone else’s or using one you wrote earlier. Maybe it’ll be inspired by what's on the card; maybe not. Recognize that this poem, which won’t likely have gone through many revisions, will not be a finished work. Deal with that recognition. You’ll probably want to make a copy for yourself. I might write (that is, create) the poem online and then copy it by hand onto the card. I see that the Nelson/Ayers project recommends the immediacy and spontaneity of actually writing the poem on the card. The card, as artifact, is important to this project, as far as I'm concerned.

--You’ll have been sent a list of participants. On the first day, you’ll mail the postcard that day to the person under you on the list. On the second day, you’ll mail the postcard to the person after that person...and so on, down the list. If you come to the bottom of the list, the next postcard goes to the first person on the list. It’s a big round robin of verbiage!

--If you have more than 20 cards, feel free to do a couple of bonus poemcards and send them to random people on the list. Don’t get ridiculous about doing so, however, or you’ll make us slackers feel bad.

--We’ll reevaluate the experiment before the end of the 20 days. Perhaps it’ll be a big ol’ failure. Perhaps some of us will need a break. Perhaps some new people will come around. If the experiment continues, I’ll put together a new list for each new poetry period.

If you’re interested, please e-mail the following information to me (don’t put it in the comments! they’re public!) at, under the subject line “Kooser Parish News”:

1. Name
2. Complete mailing address (where you want to receive postcards from strange poets)
3. E-mail address (this won't be part of the distributed participant list; it's just for my reference)
4. Whether or not you are willing to mail cards overseas, should we get some non-U.S. participants (and if we do, I'll have to figure out what to do about that)

The point here isn’t necessarily to create great literature, although it’s always cool when that happens. No, the point is to keep the creative juices flowing. I plan to keep all the postcards I receive in a scrapbook.

Again, the mailing period will likely start on July 12 and end on August 6, but I'll let you know when we're a bit farther along.

And regarding this site's name, see here.