I am in a pile of copies, waxed linen thread and screenprinted covers of Handmade Rabbit Society (bunny-sized meditations on pregnancy, birth and parenthood), a hand-bound chapbook that is a product of a Cultural Equity Grant I received from the San Francisco Arts Commission. Part of the scope of the grant is a pay-it-forward component, where I make my own chapbooks and give them away if a reader will first buy the chap of an emerging writer or demonstrate that they have recently done so. I then log that title/author and where to obtain one on an online bibliography of new writers. I invite you, avid poem hunter, to help me fulfill the terms of my grant and participate in this project with me.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT: Send me a note and two first-class postage stamps (more precisely, $0.65 U.S. postage) with the name of a self‐published or small-/micro- press poetry chapbook by title and author that you have purchased in the last 18 months. If you know it, please include the name of a bookstore or website where that author’s chapbook can be obtained. Email me directly for my snail mail address. You can mail me two stamps with the snail mail address I will provide you or, if you don’t have postage handy, I have a PayPal link here to fund the postage ($0.65 plus PayPal fees)–a copy of my chapbook will be mailed to you posthaste! Chapbook trades welcome too; please inquire if you are the author of a chapbook of poems and want to do a swap.
April and National Poetry Month are upon us again. To jump start my running-on-two-years dormant writing efforts, I and 19 other Kundiman fellows have committed to another postcard poetry exchange this month. We have names. We have addresses. We have stamps. We have postcards and we’re ready to go, starting today!
Here are some general ground rules that can be used for your own poetry exchange, after you’ve recruited some willing participants and compiled a list of names and postal addresses:
- The challenge is to write one poem a day.
- Find your name on your group’s list.
- Write a poem that fits within the size of a postcard to the person listed below you. You can buy, make or find postcards with images or without (with is more fun to receive).
- The next day (or the next time you write a poem), send it to the next person on the list. e.g. Send the first poem to the person listed below your name on the list, the second poem to the person below that name, etc. Keep cycling through the list every day, sending the last poem out on 4/30. Or, for example, write 30 poems in one day, and send one out each day until 4/30.
- Your poem can have something to do with the postcard image or not at all.
- You can receive a poem from someone and decide to write a response poem when you reach his or her name in your cycle–but that is just extra overachiever (though welcomed!) writing. Your only challenge is to try to write a poem a day on postcards, sending them on down the list.
- Keep a copy (transcription, photocopy, snapshot, whatever) of what you wrote and, if possible, your image. They will come in handy as poem drafts to revise or build upon or, perhaps, they are already awesome and it’s time to submit them for publication.
Or, stated another way (by Tim Yu), “[W]e each send a postcard to the person below us on the list, then move down the list each day after that, wrapping around to the beginning until we’ve sent one postcard to each person. Then repeat until the month is over. This way we insure that everyone (ideally) gets a steady stream of cards.”
Here are some of the postcards I’ve collected that will be going out to my list of recipients this month:
Writing, blogging and crafts slinked into a tidy and moth-free closet in an unattended recess of my brain when I started a new law gig in June that has turned out to be very satisfying and rewarding work (omg, holy surprise!). Writerly and bloggerly endeavors took a backseat to the wonder and newness of a world without billable hours. However, taking a cue from the Craig S. Perez playbook on being involved through and through in the poetry community, I’ve started writing reviews of literary journals with NewPages.com, Denise Hill’s cornucopia-o-info site on what’s out there in the literary world. I get my hands on some pretty neat specimens, some if not many that are not readily available at local bookstores, and exposure to the work of plenty of contemporary and emerging writers. My first two reviews of Cannibal and The Lumberyard, both with a letterpress-y or handmade aesthetic, are here (Cannibal) and here (The Lumberyard).