postcard season

June 5, 2021

Every summer, hundreds of poets make a commitment to write a poem on a postcard each day of August. Now in its 15th year, the August POetry POstcard Fest is an international poetry exchange, both personal and expansive.

Organized by Paul E. Nelson, who co-founded the fest with Lana Hechtman Ayers, the annual event works like this:

  1. Register on Submittable any time through July 18, 2021. There is a small registration fee.
  2. Begin collecting or making postcards. Many participants make their own (you can see a collection in the online poetry postcard exhibit), while others use commercial cards, new or otherwise.
  3. Buy stamps. You can save a bunch by keeping your postcards to standard size (4.25″ x 6″) and thickness (.016″); U.S. postcard stamps are currently $0.36. But if you want to go big, a $0.55 letter stamp will work. You should also stock up on a few international stamps, as it’s quite possible there will be far-flung addresses on your list. Global stamps are currently $1.20 U.S.
  4. Wait for the list. Participant lists are sent by email beginning on about July 19. You will receive a list of 32 names and addresses; that’s one name per day of August, plus you.
  5. Check the list! Make sure your name and address are correct and let Paul know immediately if you need to make a change.
  6. Expect a corrected version of the list. It may take a few days or a week for all of the corrections to filter in.
  7. Begin postcarding. Most participants start mailing cards in the last week of July so that they will arrive near the beginning of August.
  8. Keep postcarding. Your goal is a card a day. The idea is to be spontaneous, not overthink or send a polished draft or something you wrote before. If you fall behind, don’t give up! Even if it takes you into the autumn months, keep sending those cards until you’ve mailed all 31.
  9. Do you Facebook? Join the Poetry Postcard Fest group, where you’ll find lots of tips, encouragement, and inspiring suggestions.
  10. A bonus tip: most U.S. mail receives a machined barcode — a series of long and short dashes imprinted on the lower edge of the address side — that allows other machines to read the address and ZIP code. We urge you to leave what the USPS calls a Barcode Clear Zone, a 5/8″ blank space along the bottom of the address side of your postcards. If you don’t, the barcode may not be readable, interfering with delivery, and/or, very frustratingly, the final lines of your poem may be rendered unreadable by the barcode!

Want more info? Browse the PoPo site, read a recent article by Paul Nelson and Margaret Lee, or see previous posts on The Poetry Department.

Hope you’ll consider participating in 2021. You could end up with a chapbook of poems and you’ll certainly have more postcard-loving friends around the world.

6 Responses to “postcard season”

  1. Lucy Says:

    This sounds like fun!

  2. mbfrezon Says:

    This was great! I shared with another group of poets and poetry lovers to spread the word. See you in August!

  3. heyannis Says:

    This will be my third year participating! I’m looking forward to sending and receiving cards and poems.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: