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Poets and Postcards and Where to Find Them

June 23, 2021

Yes, indeed!

Poets and postcards go together, and August, in case you missed it, is the postcard poetry festival month. There are people who have been doing it for over a decade! The rules are simple: you write a poem on a postcard and send it to a stranger every day in the month of August. The strangers have all collectively agreed to participate, so you have a list to work through. And then, of course, you also get a bunch of postcards in your mailbox. This year, the crowd looks like this:

Total Poets: 519 (down from the lockdown’s 544, but not bad, eh?)

Countries Represented: 13, Australia 3, Canada 20, France 2, Germany 1, Ghana 1, Ireland 1, Italy 1, Japan 1, New Zealand 2, Norway 1, Switzerland 1, United Kingdom 5, USA 480.

States and provinces: 46 U.S. states + D.C., 4 Canadian provinces and 3 Australian states.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to list my all-time favorite sources of postcards (the listings are not sponsored in any way :).

  • My/your local Goodwill. Never fails. There are bundles. Sometimes there are kits to make your own cards. There are stickers. I used to live half-a-mile from a Goodwill store, so this particular non-profit comes to mind first. However, other charity shops are also good. A very good one for cards in Alexandria, VA is LookAgain!
  • The Public Domain Review, to whose newsletter you should subscribe regardless of your relationship with postcards. The PDR publishes thoughtful, well-edited essays about and images of works in public domain. Bolshevik Russia public health board games, anyone?
  • Speaking of public domain, the Library of Congress (which is a source of many marvelous things) has put online selections of free-to-use images from its collections. Many are postcard-worthy – you just need to print them.
  • The New York Review of Books shop also features great sets of postcards, such as this one.
  • And for a great aesthetic with important messages, check out the Syracuse Cultural Workers Collective. The organization also runs calls for submissions and (gasp!) pays artists (and writers) for the work selected for its products.

For my month of sending cards to (forewarned) strangers, I am using a mix of thrifted and hand-made cards this year. This is apparently what happens: first you collect cards, then you start modifying them and making collages, and eventually you start making your own – like Linda Crosfield, a great poet who’s been doing the festival for years.

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