August’s Poetry Postcard Festival revitalized snail mail for me. I’m an Internet enthusiast, always finding new ways to communicate, collaborate and connect with people. I particularly appreciate the irony that the PPF was organized and initiated through the Internet and couldn’t exist without it. That’s what I like about this era: you can use the typewriter and then scan the piece for electronic distribution. you can take a photo with a digital camera and then add blots of paint and use a brush pen to enhance it. Today we are not restricted to any method.
I enjoyed receiving cards from poets I didn’t know and was fascinated by the various styles of writing. I wouldn’t like to choose a favourite, they were all compelling in their own ways. I didn’t receive postcards daily but in exciting bursts. My mailbox would be full of brightly coloured missives with text that defied the plodding linearity of credit card bills, the jingoistic pamphlets of political propaganda and the obnoxious cliche-ridden advertisements i usually receive in the mail.
From a writing point of view, I found the activity ritualistic and meditative. it was something i did every day for almost 31 days; sometimes, i found myself writing more than one at a time. i tried in my creation to find out a little something about the person i was writing to and incorporate it into the text. i’d google my recipients and if they had poetry on line, i’d use something from that; if i found a bio, i’d try to include a detail from that. failing all else, i’d put something in about a commonality of our geographies, but i tried to find some common ground to establish a connection. in order to document the work, i took photos and added little bits of my own mischief to the flotsam. this was fun too, but time consuming. in the future i will probably just let the cards be and enjoy the rituals. i plan on keeping a stack of cards and postage available for any old time when i want to touch base with someone.
the internet is quite wonderful and i don’t see myself returning to the mail in any full time way, but from time to time, it provides a languid and patient pause that i find restful and mysterious at the same time. i’ve always loved the Griffin and Sabine books by Nick Bantock, in which he artfully documents the imaginary correspondence of two people. the postcard festival reminded me of that only on a larger scale. wouldn’t it be fun if we published a book!
thanks to Paul Nelson and Lana Hechtman Ayers for their initiative and dedication to this project. i'm sorry i won't be at the reading; i'm sure it will be splendid. do send me a card and tell me how it went ;)