POetry POstcard Update (APPF11 2017)

There is less than a week to sign up for the 11th August POetry POstcard Fest. We have 5 and a half complete groups so far. Last year we had seven complete groups and there are many who love to sneak in under the wire. The official call is here. The direct link to the signup is here.

Meantime, I got a package yesterday from Donna Dakota of Schenectady, NY:

I love the D-i-Y feel of this and it combines several other things about poetry I love:

1) Poetry Postcards.
2) An expanded comfort zone. Poetry is not brain surgery, people. Taking a risk on a poem being sent to a single individual is not going to kill anybody. Not sure if it is from a poem, or a country music song, but this seems applicable here:

Dance like no one is watching,
Live like you’ll never be hurt
Sing like no one is listening
Live like it’s heaven on earth.

3) Seriality. I’ve written about it many times and this post is a good place to start, but seriality and spontaneity are two methods that I’ve used to get deeper down my own throat as I engage in writing poetry and I think there is a lot to the notion that these two methods are excellent ways to make the poem an act of discovery and a high-energy-construct, in Charles Olson’s words.

Thank you Donna Dakota for participating and for your kind gift.

While you’re here, see some other postcard resources:

Linda Crosfield Lives for File Folders

Postcard Testimonial by Ina Roy-Faderman, the Chief Editor of 56 Days of August.

How Sending Postcards to Strangers Made Me a Better Designer by the David Sherwin


Writing or Re-Writing by Your Humble Narrator

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August POetry POstcard Fest Year 11 Official Call

The August Poetry Postcard Fest was initiated in 2007 by poets Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers. 2017 marks the eleventh year of the fest and this is your official call.

Directions to participate in the fest are linked here. 

This year poets will be organized in groups of 32 and the list will be released as each group gets the required amount of participants. The signup will end July 19 at 11:59pm PDT. There will be a $10 fee (+ service charge to participate this year which will go to stage the Cascadia Poetry Festival in 2017.) 

The page at which to register is: http://appf.brownpapertickets.com

http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest/ is the main page for the fest. The signup period only lasts two weeks this year, so take note and plan accordingly.

2017 is the second year funds go directly to the Cascadia Poetry Festival and is the first chance for ticket-buyers to get their Gold Pass for the 2017 Fest in Tacoma. (Registration is open now at: http://cpf5.bpt.me.) A contribution of $10 covers the fest.  $25 more gets you a Gold Pass and entry to all CPF events except Master Workshops. (Space is limited, so get to fest events early.) We’re also asking for participants to cover the small costs BPT takes to handle the funds and signup process.


1. Make sure you want to do this. It means writing at least 31 original poems onto cards and mailing them by August 31. There are no excuses short of (lord forbid) injuries, sickness or other unfortunate events, but if you sign up, please send 31 cards.

2. Look to see where your name is on your list. You will get a list emailed to you soon after your group hits 32 participants and NOT when you pay the registration fee. Make sure your info is correct and each address is complete. LET ME KNOW ASAP IF NOT. Each group will have 32 poets, so each list will be a closed loop and early signees will not be penalized by waiting for the last minute registrants to sign up. It pays to get in early. I’ll send the whole list to all participants when registration has closed.

3. When you see your name on the list you get for your group, send three original poems to those three people JUST BELOW your name. ie: If you are #10 on the list, you should send cards to: # 11 #12 & #13. Do it before July 27. If you want to send more, that’s ok. If you are at the bottom of the list, start with the names at the very top. ie: #32 will send to #1, #2 & #3. No later than August 1, start sending postcards until you have sent at least 31 total, continuing down from your name and going to the bottom, then going to the top of the list. (Some people also pick out a few extra poets, friends, neighbors, and write 35 or 40! I will provide all the participant addresses, but not until the entire list is final.)

4. Once you start receiving poems, see if there is a thread, a tone, an image, a fragrance, something that can inspire you in the next poem you send. Please refer to the call and the handy links there for more help on the how of this. http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest and other links that drop down from there. If you don’t get inspired from cards you receive, no biggie. Just write and mail.

If you have people from outside your country on the list YOU MUST SEND EXTRA POSTAGE. From the US, in 2016 a card anywhere across the border cost $1.15 in postage, or FOUR .34c POSTCARD stamps. Some people recognize that the stamp itself can add flair to the card. If you send oversized cards, you’ll need a regular letter stamp in the U.S. See: https://postcalc.usps.com/

6. If you are on Facebook, check out the Facebook Postcard Fest page. Many people get excited about the fest, but I would suggest writing your poems and then chatting about them on the Facebook page or other social media AFTER the fest. Let’s try to recreate a feeling of the time (gasp) BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA. That page is moderated and posts will not be allowed if the spirit of the fest is violated.

7. DO NOT POST YOUR POEMS ONLINE UNTIL 30 DAYS AFTER THEY GET SENT and more if the card was sent overseas. Pity to see it online before it arrives in the box. Kinda defeats the purpose. Also, ASK PERMISSION to post other people’s poems. OK? The image is fair game, but make sure the poet who sent you the poem grants permission for you to publish in any way.

8. Just putting this list together is a task. If you can get a question about the fest answered by reading something here (and all the links above) please do. Leave a comment in the comment section.

9. Document your cards before sending them out. Scanning both sides is one way, if you have a home scanner. Then re-typing the poems and recreating the line breaks is the way I have done it. There are many examples on the blog. See: http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest-2014-afterword/ and http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest-2013-afterword/ and http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest-2015-afterword-2/

10. Have fun. This fest is designed to get you to trust your gut in the act of composition. Learning about the traditions of spontaneity in North American poetry and other disciplines has been life-changing for me and if you participate with trust in the process, you’ll also experience some degree of liberation, a little high, or both. Goddess-speed.

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The Hanners: Husband & Wife Postcarders

It’s almost 4th of July which means August is coming. August for me has become synonymous with the heart of summer because of my poetry postcard habit. This year is the 11th year of the August POetry POstcard Fest which I have a habit of spelling with two capital P’s AND two capitol O’s which led Terry Holzman (90064) to call it PoPo, which I LOVE. So, for about six weeks, I’m a little focused on postcards, buying, writing, sending cards and administering the PoPo fest.

I could not help but want to write about Toni and Michael Hanner (97404.) I met them at Tsunami Books a few months ago and they gave me a copy of their own books of poems created from their postcard efforts and I’ll be damned if they are not the best fucking poetry postcards I’ve ever seen. They are irreverent, intelligent and direct. They are epistolary, as is proper to such an endeavor. They are never clichéd or tired, very original. Like the first poem in Michael’s book from the 2014 fest, the line:

sailing /our paper airplanes into someone else’s August

or from August 2:

Here is August, that old lover/ to take us round the dance floor again

or one to the late postcarder, Bridget Nutting (98685):

In the morning sun
the jasmine reaches out
from its small trellis,
If I build a bigger one
it will climb that too
and expect more.

Someday it must learn
to do things for itself.

And dig the back cover of Michael’s book:

Ain’t that the truth! You send them out and hear nothing! are they glorious? Shit? It’d be nice to get an answer, but isn’t that how poetry’s supposed to work? Do it for the love of doing it?

Meanwhile Toni got a book out of the work from last year’s fest. She did NOT submit to our postcard anthology call, the book The 56 Days of August. Our loss. She did write every day about FISH!

Fish Poem 1

The wild iris
won’t bloom
in our pond.

The fish have stolen
all the yellow
from the sky.

or Fish Poem 17

Something in the blood
tells the Canada geese
to get up and go, but they have it pretty good
over by the Toyota dealership.

Their V-shaped flights are a formality,
one side of the river
to the other, singing the Goose Anthem.

And any poet worth their salt would have a book of fish poems without mentions of fish in at least one or three of the poems, like

Fish Poem 19

The fan
is making
small plastic sounds
like chickens

And then Fish Poem 20

You may have noticed this poem
is not in French. And so far
it has not had a single fish in it.
The fish are attending a seminar
on “Herman Melville and His Times.”
They don’t even speak French.

I love how Herman Melville pops up here out of nowhere. Surprise mind is one of the great arts of poetry, one of the signs that the person writing has some real skill in the poetic endeavor. It’s a hard one for me to get that quality in my own poems and it gives the feeling of a good joke, but coming from a place deeper down the throat, closer to the heart or spleen.

Thank you Postcarding Hanners of 97404. I hope your letter carrier appreciates you even if your postcard recipients are as silent as yellow-stealing fish under the honking car dealership geese.

hear the Hanners here:

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