Postcard Gift

July 25, 2016
by Paul Nelson

It is the tenth year of the August Poetry Postcard Fest and as I was taking an afternoon walk this past weekend, it hit me – what a gift this annual event is through and through. Having so many people year after year tell me, email me, or post to the APPF Facebook page how much fun they have with the fest, how it stimulates their creative life and connects them with people they would not have met (in the mail or otherwise). How it is life-giving, life-affirming. Lord knows we need that about right now. To be creative in such a materialistic and hateful time is being that proverbial candle which refuses to curse the darkness.

That the fest is run completely by volunteers and benefits part of my life’s work, the festival component of my 20 year Bioregional Cultural Investigation of Cascadia and any funding for real art in this society is a huge gift.

56 Days of August imageThat an anthology is going to be created from this years poems written as part of the APPF and that there are high quality and conscious people (Ina Roy-Faderman and Judy Kleinberg among them) who seem to cover every angle and anticipate every issue regarding the book is a blessing, a huge gift. Anytime someone finds so much value in your vision they VOLUNTEER for it, that is huge. (See also the Facebook page for the book and like it.)

To go to the mailbox and find, not bills, not junk mail, but POEMS! What a huge gift that is. I love the feeling of having a poem in my hand and read it before even opening checks! I love the filing systems that participants have developed over the years for poems they have received and that shows you the reverence with which they save these poem/gifts.

When someone takes time out of their life to go deeply down their own throat and condense time and perception and experience into the 14 or so short lines one can fit on the average poetry postcard, that is a huge gift of one’s essence that changes one’s consciousness if done right. Part of my own prayer as I drop new postcard poems into the mailbox is that the poem will have a transformative effect, that will somehow uplift the reader and bring them a little joy, a chuckle, a respite from life in these neoliberal (may you live in interesting) times.

But the writing of the poem itself is a gift. From whom or what, who knows? When one is tapped into the creative moment, something does not overtake us, per se, but we are willing collaborators with it. We sense the presence of something other, something greater than ourselves, something that is not threatening (to the grounded person), something that stops time and lifts us out of ourselves, our routines, our prejudices and habitual patterns. (Almost wrote patters and that too sometimes.) With each poem written in this way, we hone our intuition a little more carefully. When we understand the difference between intuition and fear, it is a gift in our lives that bestows us with negative capability, strengthens a sense of having trust in matters beyond our control. Is it acceptance?  I prefer the word cool as the Yoruba would describe it: “tutu.” That Miles Davis would stumble upon that as an album title is no accident. Who will ever be cooler than Miles Davis? He birthed the fucking cool for God’s sake.

So thank you postcarders, thank you Muse or Duende, or morphic resonance or whatever gets awakened during the 56 Days of August. It continues to be a huge gift in my life.



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