Faced with the prospect of not having any (in person) poetry readings for a while due to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and self-isolation for several weeks, the SPLAB Board agreed with my notion that we ought to start POPO early. POPO is the new name (thanks Terry Holzman) for the August POetry POstcard Fest, which is in YEAR 14! A few folks did not like their rhythm disrupted, as SUMMER is the time for POPO. Two said this was not a good idea because it was not clear if one could contract the virus via postcard. (WHO says the risk is “Low.”) Registration is open until July 18.
So, with little fanfare, we opened up the fest via a new website, brilliantly designed by Be Seen Media‘s Philip Brautigam: www.POPO.cards. (Cool url, eh?) We also have a Project Manager on board, Barb Nelson, who is working to get word out about POPO. Yes, this means I have not two weeks but TWELVE weeks of sending out lists and corrections, so there is a downside for me. I love the two week rush of getting lists out and then enjoying MY OWN writing of poetry postcards, but this is why I get paid the big bucks.
And I have sat down to write some of my own cards. Allen Ginsberg said poets are people who “notice what they notice” and being WITNESSES to life at this highly charged time in world history is critical. Postcard poets are documenting their own lives via the fest and that may be the most important reason why now is the time to write.
There was a great feeling as I sat down to write my first card, to longtime POPO participant S.E. Ingraham (the first of two Canadian poets on my list oddly enough). That feeling was like being with an old friend again after a long break and getting caught up in NO TIME. Like the feeling of postcard composition is its own little universe and I’d not visited for months.
YES I had a pile of cards which I made last year and had two prints made of each. The fest has continued to deepen my own practice. I have written before about the depth of spontaneous composition, which is at the heart of the festival, and the notion of seriality (which I continue to practice in the tradition of Robin Blaser, George Stanley, Daphne Marlatt and other Cascadian poets) but then going on to create my own collage postcards was a huge gift. I may have some more time this year to create postcards and I still have my collage material stash:
And I’m working on penmanship, which I hope is my final postcard frontier. So, if you’re in group one, get ready for Postcards from the Pandemic. Forgive me for the handwriting on the cards already sent.
Since we added 108 days to the fest for 2020, I expect I can do about one every three days or 56, which is a nice round number related to postcards via the anthology 56 Days of August: Poetry Postcards, edited by Ina Roy-Faderman, Judy Kleinberg and I, in 2017 and now in its 2nd edition!
Writers have time now. We can only hope for the best from our political “leaders,” prepare for the worst and do what we need to do to be safe and sane. Postcards are a step toward sanity.
Thank you SO MUCH for making the decision to move this project up. I am a theatre actor and all the creative endeavors I am most deeply connected to are getting cancelled and postponed, so it is a breath of fresh air and hope that this project is actually coming to fruition SOONER because of the madness of our world at the moment…
Egg Harbor, WI