Like my ink and pencil drawing above of the steampunk fish, it’s fun to meld different arts together. In my last blog here, for example, I mentioned that I’d participated in a month-long project combining short poems and postcards. In this blog, I’m going to give you more information on the process and how you can be part of this challenging project.
First of all, I was wondering if I could contain my writing to just a few lines that would fit on a postcard. I like to write longer poems. However, it was liberating to be defined, but not limited, by format. For centuries, poets have been using formats such as haiku or sonnets to create their works within structure. The poetry postcard is actually a little more flexible. You have a 4” X 6” (or 5” X 7”) space to write WHATEVER and HOWEVER you want! Cram letters in one corner or spread them out. Draw them. Type, cut and paste onto the card. It’s your canvas.
Many of the participants in the project sent pre-made postcards, some odd, others beautiful. Usually, the poem fit the visual image, which was often a photo. However, in keeping with my idea of creating your own art . . . melding . . . why not draw or take your own photo?
I drew the images on paper and then took a photo and downloaded them onto my computer via USB cord. You may prefer to scan them in. I use a free program called Picasa to sharpen or crop my images. I also used its Text option. While you may use any program to print your cards, I decided to use Avery’s postcard paper, which I bought from Staples. There are directions included with the packet so you know how to work it if you have Microsoft Word. It prints three postcards to a page on matte paper.
If you use Picasa, you can print them out as 4” X 6” cards on one sheet of photo paper (2 per sheet) or on individual 4” X 6” photo paper.
Once you have the image, then you need to write the poem. I did this in a separate file in Word. Then I would create the postcard and type the poem on the card BEFORE I printed it out. The important part is to remember that it has to fit the space on the art/photo of the card. In other words, you have to consider the shape of the poem in relationship to the art, in other words. If you don’t, you may not be able to read the words. Of course, you should consider using white ink if your art is dark. Play around with it and see how it looks.
Some senders simply typed out a poem, printed it, and cut it out before pasting it on a real card. Others wrote directly by hand on the card. You can make it as spontaneous and low-tech as you want. I admit the way I did it was a lengthy process, but once I figured out how to do it, I could print out several cards in advance. And I admit that wasn’t exactly the spirit of the project. They really want you to write a poem a day, not stockpile several beforehand.
Even if you don’t join the poetry postcard project, having a stack of your own cards to send to friends is fun. But if you’d like to be part of the project, here is the info:
Go to poetrypostcards.blogspot.com or on Facebook, go to Postcard Poetry Fest and ask to join the page.
Here is one example of the poetry post cards I did last year. Originally, the art was on canvas (9” X 12”). I had done the painting previously, so part of the work was already done. Remember you will be doing a postcard poem every day for all of August!
There is also another hybrid idea: mail art. This is a worldwide art movement and yes, I mean that literally. You mail your postcard art/words to different exhibitions in various countries. I’ve had my postcards in galleries in Wales, Spain, China, Canada, the US, etc. Usually, there is a theme along with a deadline and requirements. A good site to go to is http://mailartprojects.blogspot.com.
Right now, they’re looking for a Message in a Bottle. No theme, but it should be mailed (by post, not tossed in the ocean) to Spain in a real bottle! The deadline in Sept. 1, 2014. Turkey is looking for mail art regarding “I am a walnut tree.”
Many of the exhibits are also available for viewing online. I should caution you that your work will not be returned. However, sometimes the exhibit inspires books, such as the Seattle Book about Death project. And if you’re lucky, you might get an exhibit book. Some mail art calls require original art. Others are okay with copies or photos. You just have to read the restrictions on the call sheet.
Quite a few of the writers I know are also multi-talented in other arts. Musicians, dancers, songwriters. We all do “hybrid” work while writing fiction and poetry, or flash fiction, prose poems, creative fiction, or non-fiction. Our minds can jump from idea to image or from word to sound. It’s a delight to see ideas visibly expressed, whether in art or theater. Trying something new, like mail art, can stretch your own creativity as well as connect you to others worldwide.
Anita Endrezze is an artist and writer. Her next chapbook is “A Thousand Branches” by Red Bird Press, 2014. Previous books include “Breaking Edges” (Red Bird Press, 2012), “Butterfly Moon” (University of AZ Press, 2012), and “throwing fire at the Sun, water at the Moon” (University of AZ Press, 2000). She is the recipient of the Washington State Writer’s Award, a GAP Award, and the Bumbershoot Weyerhaeuser Award. She has been publishing for over 40 years. She lives near Seattle, WA. Her poem, "The tunnel's secret" was featured in North American Review Fall 2012.