SEND A CARD/GET A CARD

Last year several of us in the Rogue Valley participated in Paul Nelson’s August Poetry Postcard Fest (http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest/), a wonderful way to flex your McPoetry muscles. You have written McPoems, haven’t you?

What is a McPoem?

This is a term first used by my old friend, the late Billy Doody, one-time owner of the Yellow Pages bookstore in Grants Pass. Bill and artist/poet Tee Corinne, sadly also no longer with us, co-hosted a monthly open mic reading at Yellow Pages for five years. I attended nearly every month after first learning of it, and there I found a loving tribe of welcoming poets of every style and ability.

Bill always felt it a lost opportunity to arrive at an open mic gathering without a poem to share. He told me, “If you don’t have a poem you’ve been working on, write a McPoem on the way!”

I don’t promise that every off-the-cuff poem you write will be a gem, but writing spontaneous poetry is a great technique for keeping your imagistic mind in gear. It sharpens your imagination and keeps your focus on the small moments of each day that are seeds of new work.

The Post Card Fest is a terrific McPoem activity. Each day you write a short poem, no larger than one that fits on a postcard (no need to stew, no need to edit, no need to think too much!). Write it on the card, and send it to another poet. All over the country, and across the globe, too, other poets do the same thing each day. To get you started, Paul sends you a list of other poets who have signed up to participate. You’ll receive postcards from those who have your name and address on their lists. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. I didn’t get as many as I sent, but I felt just fine about the several I did receive. Like messages in a bottle, these short poems arrive as mystery gifts, and who doesn’t love to get Real Mail?!

Nelson has been organizing this project for years, and for the first time there is now a $10 charge. Postcards, stamps, and brain power are other resources you’ll need. But it’s really an inexpensive, low-risk ritual I’m committed to. Maybe we’ll get one another’s names on our lists?

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