In the past, we’ve talked about writing postcard poems in our Weekly Prompts, solicited them from readers as part of the LR Postcard Project, even published them in issues of the Lantern Review (see Tamiko Beyer’s “Dear Disappearing” in Issue 1, Rachelle Cruz’s “Postcard Poem #067” in Issue 3). So it should come as no surprise that — with the holidays fast approaching — this Friday’s prompt is about writing the holiday postcard.
It’s not what you think… if this is what you’re thinking:
A quick update and reminder to those who either picked up an LR Postcard Project card at AWP or requested one in the mail: please don’t forget to write your response poem and send it back to us! April 15th (the postmark deadline) is fast-approaching, and the sooner you send in your responses, the earlier we’ll be able to feature them on the blog.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns regarding how the project is meant to work, please do not hesitate to send us an email: editors [at] lanternreview (dot) com.
A warm welcome to all those who are joining us for the first time after encountering us in D.C.! We are back from AWP, and we’re getting ready to roll once again over here on the blog. The conference and reading went wonderfully (look out for more about our experience in our upcoming post-AWP reflection posts), and we were delighted to be able to hand out 103 postcards as part of our 2011 Postcard Project.
For those of you who are just joining us, or who didn’t catch the explanation that we posted before the conference, the LR Postcard Project is a special venture that we’ve devised in order to encourage creative responses to the poems that we’ve published so far in Issue 1 & Issue 2. We made up a series of 116 uniquely-numbered postcards, featuring either pre-selected “shimmery bits” (quotes, excerpts, lines, images, what have you) from poems that appeared in our first two issues or a blank front (where you could fill in your own favorite “shimmery bit” from an LR poem), and asked people at AWP to take one home, to write a response to their chosen excerpt in the form of a poem on the back, and to mail it back to us by April 15th. The idea here is that we will post the cards that we receive to the blog (as they come in) and that we’ll even choose a few that we particularly like to publish in an upcoming issue.
You can expect to see more about the project—including reminders, and (hopefully!) responses, in upcoming weeks, but for those of you who were not able to make it to the conference, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to participate, as well, and so we are going to give away our 13 remaining postcards (all of which are of the fill-in-yourself variety) to the first 13 commentors on this post. Here are the rules:
Leave a comment on this post with your name, a contact email address, and the title of your favorite poem from Issue 1 or 2 of LR.
We will contact the first 13 (human/non-spam/individual) commentors for their mailing addresses and will send them each a postcard via snail mail.
If you receive a card, all you have to do is to inscribe a short quote or excerpt from a poem in Issue 1 or 2 on the front of the card, write a poem on the back in response to that quote, stick on a postcard stamp, and send it back to us by April 15th.
This week’s prompt was largely inspired by the beautiful Kundiman postcard poems that we had the privilege of publishing in our first issue. Writing postcard poems can be a lovely exercise in multiple respects. They are, by nature, short, which is a challenge in and of itself. Furthermore, they are handwritten, and in some cases, hand-illustrated, too. The detail and attention that drafting them requires can add a dimension of intimacy to the finished product. Additionally, the fact that they are necessarily one-of-a-kind means that each postcard poem becomes a little one-off publication unto itself, and the card’s fragility and vulnerability to things like fingers and rain as it travels through the mail means that the piece that is received on the other end is always inscribed with a physical history of travel and transfer from hand-to-hand-to-hand. The exchange of postcard poems , furthermore, can be an excellent way to build community, inviting collaboration, response, and the incorporation of poetry on a micro-scale into the everyday correspondence of those who participate.
Experienced poets may find it satisfying enough to challenge themselves with the tiny spatial confines of a postcard, but I have also included a variation below that I’ve tried in the community/classroom setting with some success.
Create or find a postcard whose subject interests you (non-geographically specific subjects tend to work quite well). Decide upon a persona, or voice, and an addressee. From what space, place, or position is that postcard being written? How might this sense of positionality affect the speaker’s attitude towards the addressee, and thereby, the tone of his or her address? Write an epistolary poem on the back of the postcard, using the small rectangular writing space to shape your poem’s form.
Classroom Variation (“Wish You Were Here”):
Write a poem in the form of a postcard from an unusual location. When I’ve done this exercise with small groups in the past, I’ve come prepared with a handful of blank notecards on which strange, mundane, wacky , and/or otherwise non-geographical ‘locations’ have been pre-written (e.g. “The Bridge of George Washington’s Nose,” “The Back of the Refrigerator,” “The Library Dumpster,” “The Bee’s Knees,” “Inside Harry Potter’s Shoe,” “The Kitchen Table,” etc.). On the back side of each card, I’ll draw or print a “postcard” template (complete with spaces for mailing address and stamp, should the students decide to mail off their completed pieces). After introducing the concept of epistolary poems to the students and giving them a few examples, I allow them to choose a “postcard” featuring a location that interests them. The students are then given the chance to try writing a postcard poem on the back sides of their chosen cards. For younger or more artistically-inclined groups, adding an illustration on the blank front side of the card can also be fun.