March 24, 2009KR BlogUncategorized

Postcards and Poetry – Say Yes!

(“Go Home” – Collaborative ink & text postcard
by Eric Green and Mollie Hosmer-Dillard)

“Be careful your poem doesn’t become a postcard” I was once advised by a poet offering me feedback. Which just made me sad – for postcards and for poetry – two things dear to my heart. Was she worried the poem/postcard might be too boring, too everyday, too personal – or too shallowly seduced by monument or exotic detail? I admit that these are legitimate dangers for both – but also where some of their charms and strength reside. The pleasure of everyday language compressed into a tighter frame – the endlessly astounding details of the observed world (especially when seen anew through the intensified/disoriented perception of the traveler) – and the thrill of a real person speaking directly to another human being (and so, as readers, to you, to me) — it’s worth the risk!

Not to mention the pleasure of the object itself: a tangible piece of rectangular space, marked with time and place – hurtled through time and geography by the miracle of a postage stamp – to be caught in the real hands of another person ??? and unpacked in a new time and space through the mind reading it. Amazing! (And if someone felt as excited to receive a poem of mine as finding a surprise postcard in the mailbox – I think I’d be doing something right.)

Not to mention the postcard’s image on the obverse (“I will eat oranges for you, if you will throw snowballs for me,” as one postcard I have pictures – see also the text & image beauties of Green & Hosmer-Dillard above) — or the alluring captions (“On the road of a thousand wonders…”) — or the thrill of exposure and communal expression, boldly eschewing the envelope (the most remarkable examples of which can be found on Post Secret).

So a few postcard notes slipped into your pocket,
no postage due:

“Dear Gertrude,
Day 5: Things are going good“.
up to five whisky shots a day and feeling that
I could do more very soon“”

(The Typing Explosion, “Dear Gertrude”)

“Lefty Cahir, loan me your football shoes again ???
Clark, let me borrow the brown suit once more ???
I hear a fluttering against my windows.
River, don’t rise above the 3rd floor.”

(Ted Berrigan, “Providence,” from A Certain Slant of Sunlight ??? a collection of 100 poems written on postcards over the span of one year)

“Dear stranger:
extant in memory by the blue Juniata
these letters
across space I guess
will be all we know of each other.”

(Galway Kinnell, The Book of Nightmares, IV, 7)

“I have been riding on this donkey.
– Doris”

(message on found postcard:
1906 – Pittsfield, MA)