August POetry POstcard Fest (aka PoPo)

This is the official page for the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). 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. It is the biggest annual fundraiser for SPLAB. In 2019 there were 424 participants in over 13 countries. (See THIS for details.) This is the official call for 2020.

See this essay in Rattle Magazine about the fest:

Photograph by Chad Peltola (CC0)

Once you are registered (click here to register) here are the INSTRUCTIONS:

Buy the postcard anthology!

1. Obtain or make at least 31 postcards, one for each poet on your list. Some people make their cards. Many places (like this) can turn your pictures into cards, as can any decent print shop. Make sure you print on decent card stock.

2. After you register, and once your group has filled, you will get a list via email and pdf. This will be on July 4 or after. 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 after July 4 or when registration ends.) When the registration ends you can get the addresses of all participants by request.

peN Collage Postcard July 1 43. 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.

Postcard by Germán Montalvo

Postcard by Germán Montalvo

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 postcard fest but best to let the cards speak for themselves during the fest. Once September starts, anything is fair game except spam. 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 $10.00 U.S. to SPLAB. (There is a service charge.) 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. There are costs to maintaining the email list (Mailchimp, &c.) and website. This is a fundraiser for SPLAB and provides enough for us to pay basic bills. Contributions are welcome.

8. Ina Roy and J.I. Kleinberg and I have created a postcard anthology. See:

To ensure you’ll get the call, subscribe to this blog. (The box in the upper right corner above? It says SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER. See below)

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We send out an average of two emails a week from this blog and, 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 August 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. and and



48 Responses to August POetry POstcard Fest (aka PoPo)

  1. Christine Kendall says:

    I have been participating in August Postcard Poetry for about five years, I think, and today, January 25 I received a postcard poem in the mail from someone who apparently decided to send to everyone on the list. Unfortunately I no longer have the entire list, so have no way of possibly discovering the brave writer from Buffalo, NY who decided to write a card every single day. I’m inspired.

  2. Just got a poem marked #31. Must be about time to start again for 2014. I think. (I’m almost ready.)

  3. daniel smith says:

    Participated last year in 2013 and want to do so again in 2014, but can’t seem to find the sign up yet. I subscribed to the blog but not the FB account. Daniel

  4. How do you subscribe to the August Postcard Poetry Fest?

  5. tanyapoet says:


    Thanks for organizing this poetry postcard fest! It’s really been energizing and organizing my artistic practice. I gave you a shout out on my website to help with spreading the word!


  6. Margarette Wahl says:

    Hi! This is my first time in the poetry Fest. I am enjoying receiving all the unique postcards. I got about 24 so far. Thanks to all who participated and I hope everyone enjoyed mine!

  7. ina says:

    Wow. I’d love to help put together an anthology for 2016. Paul, would you be willing/have time to contact me (email, phone, whatever works) to give me a sense of the kind of thing you were thinking of? – Ina ( – contact info there)

  8. I love the festival — appreciate very much your work to organize. Did you know that there are many free services for event registration? You can make it possible for ‘attendees’ to access the participant list, which would be the same as the distro list we receive. It would make for little to no work on your part, and so could be free for all.

  9. Oh Paul, it’s great to write spontaneously for sure! In 2013, a great year. But in 2014, 32 poems developed their own path and brought their own torches, resulting in Spider Lace, Dragonfly Mind, published in December 2014, available on amazon. I say this because it is possible to think consistently and not revise a single line for a whole month, have the disparate souls of poems develop a coherent whole, and find a way into print. Marvelous. I’ll be there this year.

  10. Paul. I went to sign up and pay my ten buck but the link says cannot pay til Jul 4….when the Call opens. It’s not really clear on this page despite the urging to “get in early” that “early means not before July 4 2015.” Thanks for all you do to make this happen.

  11. Diane says:

    Was wondering where the $10 is going, since, given last year’s average participation, might total $2500 or more.

    • Splabman says:


      To offset time spent administering ​the fest, answering questions, overseeing the Facebook page, coordinating with Brown Paper Tickets, &c. Paul

  12. marj norris says:

    Dear Paul, I will not be able to write poems this year at the postcard contest, but I wish you and your fabulous endeavor the best. Write to me next year!

  13. Bridget Nutting says:

    Dear Paul,

    I appreciate your hard work and dedication to the Fest. I look forward to it each year!

    I have several questions/comments:

    1) I think the $10 charge is very reasonable and necessary. As a long time participant, each year the number of truly committed souls on the list has declined – people sign up because they love receiving the postcards, but sometimes their personal commitment doesn’t exist.. However, most people who pay are going to follow through.

    2) I know of two people locally who want to participate, but are leery about the sign-up process. Is it possible to sign them up and pay for them at the same time I sign up?

    3) I often mail postcards throughout the year to others on the list. (I wasn’t able to last year due to health issues.) Is it possible at some point to receive a complete list of participants? I would even be willing to pay.

    Thanks again for all you do!

    Blessings always,


  14. I’m in for 2015. I love the writing experience – the necessity of getting out of your own way and just allowing the words to fall out onto the cards. It is my hope to do a chapbook in 2016 of some of the poems. Thanks for all you do!

  15. Splabman says:

    Bless you Marge. Thanks for your continued participation. We’ll be in the same group this year!!

  16. Paul, thank you for the invitation. This will be year three for me. Thank you Amanda for opening the floodgate by your invitation! First year was somewhat arduous, last year was a wonderful experience culminating in a chapbook, and I am looking forward to this year without expectation but a smile on my face. Thank you for encouraging us worldwide–as John Kennedy said, the world would be a different place if we had more poets, more poetry.

  17. I just signed up. This will be my 2nd time. It does say the tickets will be held at Will Call. In any case, I am looking forward once again. Thanks so much!

  18. mbquilts says:

    I’m a little confused about the direction, “You may start writing poems now.” Shouldn’t we wait until the 27th or so before sending out the first cards so they start arriving in August?

  19. Deb says:

    Silly question-we sign them, yes?

  20. Sandra F. Lucke says:

    Read this person’s question ” Is it possible at some point to receive a complete list of participants? I would even be willing to pay”. Your response was “of course”. That’s an example of why I no longer join the August poetry fest. Brendon emailed me a few years ago, said the entire list of poets and their mailing address was sent because it was easier for him.
    I preferred the list of 31 poets, etc. because privacy has it’s virtues.
    I’ll pay your $10 fee, if you make the lists limited to 31 poets/addresses. Let me know.

  21. I very well could be an idiot, but, after registering, where do I go to find my name on “the list”?

  22. Sidra says:

    Just found out about this awesome fest! I’m always amazed by people’s creativity. I think I understand the process, but am wondering why the differentiation between the “first three” postcards to those below your name and the rest of the list? Thanks!

    • Splabman says:

      Send three to start. Hopefully you’ll be getting some within a few days after that to inspire you on to the other cards you’ll send during the fest. Thanks for your interest in the fest.

  23. Peggy Miller says:

    I’m not cheating! Just anticipating. Maybe the blanks that seem to be for the newsletter are for the actual sign-up — and that’s why it says “cheating,huh?” when I try to get the newsletter? But thanks as ever for running this grand endeavor!
    Peggy Miller

  24. Abhaya Thomas says:

    Am I reading correctly that signup will be opened for 2020 immediately when this year’s signups close on July 18th?

  25. Sandy Sorlie says:

    Mail your postcards in a timely manner, Considering the 4 Sundays when there is no mail service. Sign your name on each post card. Write legibly, Send postcards to everyone on your list,

    • Eugenia Petty says:

      I won’t be able to take part this year (too busy with many projects, including continuing to make postcards from found-poems made during this fest!) but I have not forgotten thee, and hope to return one day!

  26. Mavis Jarrell says:

    I am in group 6. A city is not provided for Ramon Hildreth.

  27. Dear Paul, I registered today and you said to contact you if I haven’t received my list. I haven’t. I don’t know how else to write to you except through this site since the email you sent was a “no reply” from Brown Paper Tickets. Thanks, Linda

    • Splabman says:


      You will either be in Group 13 if we get enough signups tomorrow, or I will add your name to one of the existing groups. Your list will come on Friday, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, aka inshallah. Thanks for signing up!

  28. a. nisa Saiyid says:, Dear Paul, I would dearly love to take part this year, but am too late to register, due to hospital treatment and 101 commitments to catch up with. Could you please consider a late entry to the festival which was so inspiring last year, my first year participating. I have received a beautiful first card, so may in fact be on someone’s list although I have not been able to register and have not received a subsequent list. Thank you for considering this. Ns

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