The Joy of Postcards (Aug 2019 Reviews)

I titled my APPF essay for Rattle “The Joy of Postcards” but even though I was likening this activity to the subject of a famous book from the 60s, I was not far off based on some feedback from some of this year’s participants:

From Laurie Bem Frazier:

Paul as my postcards appear in my mailbox…. I have to tell you that this is one of the most joyful experiences I have had! I’m so honored to be a part of this❤️

From Stanley DelGozo:

Alo-HA Paul et al….thanks for the thanks…I am being fully uplifted “daily” by this years fest….and I am 35 cards mailed and it is only the eleventh…:-) off to the local community theater to see their version of “Biloxi Blues” today @ 2pm…namaste Stanley delGozo

From Diana Elser (Seattle)

Hi – I’m a first-year participant, via MattTrease announcement at Margin Shift. I’m a bit resistant to some of the trendier art-trying-too-hard events I see (judgy bitch that I am),  but your idea/this event feels like this to me:

– fun!!
– multi – media (visual, tactile, written word), therefore potentially left/right brain satisfying – tasky plus mind
– unpretentious
– great source of prompts
– human scale – humans reaching out to one another in a no-demands way
– inexpensive
– low-risk
– high opportunity for creativity and experimentation
– beautiful set of constraints-with-options
– celebratory
– did I mention fun?????
I’m going to go sign up for next year, and have decided to send cards to friends throughout the year as a meditative thing.
Your project could save the post office!  Maybe….
And finally, just found, while looking in “fiction” for something else at Third Place Books, a copy of Postcard Poetry – now my own.
Coincidence???? I think not –
Your fan,
My response:
1,000 thanks for this kind response. I think some of the “trendier art-trying-too-hard events…” lack heart. Pretty simple. They’re disembodied, usually, and while there are some very intellectual concepts behind APPF, I try not to ram them down people’s throats, but just make them available for those who want to peruse the tradition behind spontaneous composition. For example, Bill Evans, in the liner notes to the Miles Davis lp Kind of Blue said:

There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.

The resulting pictures lack the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation.

It’s one thing to explain that. It is another to allow people to have that experience 31 times in 56 days, at a time of year when we (rightly) prioritize personal life over the demands of capitalism. (I get a little resentful now during this period when work things erupt and I do not consider list management “work things.”)

I plan to be at Margin Shift Thursday and it would be fun to meet.

1,000 Postcard Blessings,


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Deborah Poe Interview (June 30, 2019)

Deborah Poe is the author of the poetry collections keep (from Dusie Press), the last will be stone, too (Stockport Flats), Elements (Stockport Flats), and Our Parenthetical Ontology (CustomWords), as well as a novella in verse, Hélène (Furniture Press). She founded and curates the annual Handmade/Homemade Exhibit and has taught at Pace University, Western Washington University, Binghamton University, SUNY, the Port Townsend Writer’s Workshop in Washington, Casa Libre en La Solana in Tucson and served as Distinguished Visiting Writer for Seattle University during Winter Term 2016.

Deborah Poe

Deborah Poe (photo by Paul E Nelson)

Her new book is Keep and she stopped by SPLAB World Headquarters in Rainier Beach (Seattle) on Sunday, June 30, 2019, to discuss it. We talked about her interest in neuroscience, Buddhism (via Dõgen and Norman Fischer), the philosophy of Edward S. Casey, musical references in her work (Billie Holiday and Chet Baker) and Proun, a concept that comes out of Russian artist El Lissitzky.

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Interviewed by Ethelbert Miller

I was honored to be the subject of an interview by Ethelbert Miller for his weekly radio program in Washington, D.C., On The Margin.

He had asked me for a copy of American Prophets months ago, set up the time for an EARLY Thursday chat and at 5 minutes to 6am PDT, his producer called me and away we went!

E. did his homework, asking questions about how my interviewing skills have evolved over the years, about my relationship with Sam Hamill, my thoughts about Wanda Coleman, Nate Mackey and Beaver Chief. He had culled some appropriate soundbites and within minutes after the program, it was online, available for download.

Thank you Ethelbert, for your work in the literary community and interest in my work.

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