Afterword: 2021 Poetry Postcard Fest

September 8, 2021

I never know quite when it’s over — when all of the postcards I’m likely to receive have now arrived. As of today, six (of 31) are still outstanding, which is not bad, and anyway better than last year.

In 2011, when I first participated in the poem-on-a-postcard-each-day-of-August event, I had no idea that writing these short, daily poems would become an ongoing practice. But that’s what happened.

This has become the foundation of my writing, the warmup exercise that slows the atrophy of poetry muscles. Warmup is the operative word. These are not polished poems, but first drafts sent off to a stranger in a gesture of trust with the unspoken near-certainty that they can, and perhaps will, be improved. Drafted quickly for their postcard moment, many later get published or edited into longer poems or compiled into chapbooks (the latter as yet unpublished, but on finalist and semifinalist lists in several contests).

In recent years, many Postcard Fest participants have lavished as much attention on the picture side as on the poem side of the card. Though I’m not one (I use my own printed or random commercial postcards), that makes it especially fun to receive cards in the mail.

Some of us begin to feel like friends when we land on the same list year after year. For those of us on Facebook, there is a participants’ group and a strong sense of community. Though few of us have actually met, the connection with poet/artists all over the world feels more personal than expected. We worry about those who are in harm’s way, ill, evacuated, grieving (aren’t we all?), and share moments of emotion and triumph along with postcard news.

Even with my now well-established habit of daily poeming, I have already signed up for the 2022 Poetry Postcard Fest. Signing up early means my name will likely be on a list with a few people I “know” from other years.

In a time when personal mail is rare, a postcard in the mailbox is a small treasure.

Thank you, Paul Nelson (Postcard Fest co-founder and official wrangler) and postcard friends.

. . . . .
photo: the 2021 haul, including a few bonus cards

4 Responses to “Afterword: 2021 Poetry Postcard Fest”

  1. Walter Lowe Says:

    In the dozen years I have participated, I have noticed the extended effect as well. Instead of doodling, I write short little poems in the margins (and text body) when meeting content digresses from the main focus. I have paper with me when I attend events (such as the pre-game and half-time breaks at a Sounders game), wait in the car or local Starbucks while others are shopping, etc. Many of those scraps of poems end up on a postcard in August (and February for the “Peace Poetry Postcards” event). Some have even ended up being published elsewhere.

  2. Nice work Judy! I’ve made a post on the fest site to run later in the month and link to this. Thanks for being such an inspired participant in this community.

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