Judy Jensen PPF 2021 Afterward

September 15, 2021
by Paul Nelson

Thanks to Paul, Group 1, and the regulars who register every year. You all make the festival the celebration that it is.

I’ve been participating in the festival from the beginning. Most years, as Float Press, I’ve designed and letterpress printed postcards on my Golding Jobber #6. This year’s postcard is in honor of Diane di Prima, highlighting excerpts from her “Revolutionary Letter #8.” These poem-letters embody di Prima’s spirit and are more relevant than ever as our country reels under social and political unrest, the pandemic and global warming. In this climate, bringing flowers to a love-in held great appeal. Also, I grew pink and orange-red zinnias for the first time this summer: the flowers on the postcard are zinnias from my garden.

For those of you who are interested in production, I designed the illustration and text in Illustrator. The photopolymer plates were ordered from Boxcar Press. Each color is an individual plate, so the postcard front was printed six times, moving from the darkest to the lightest color. Each letterpress project throws a curveball. On this project, the white zinnia was intended to be pink or purple, but I botched the pink plate. Luckily, the dark pink plate was correct, so I was able to print pale-yellow shadows on the white zinnia.

To prepare for this summer’s poems, I read di Prima’s Memoirs of a Beatnik and The Poetry Deal. Initially, I thought I could write poems in response to hers, but quickly moved to a more realistic option timewise: haikus or, in this case, di Prima-kus. The first lines in these haikus are last lines from poems in The Poetry Deal, bringing with them the possibilities of exploring di Prima’s territory: activism, feminism, and Buddhism. Some haikus are political, but most spring from my obsession with nature. I tried some Buddhist-influenced haikus, but find these challenging. It seems you have a choice: you can write a Buddhist poem, or you can write a good poem. It’s difficult to bring something original and startling to that particular party. In one of the examples here, it would appear I’m channeling Yoda rather than Buddha.

Thank you, Paul and coordinators, for setting up today’s open mic. It’s lovely to put faces to names. Hope to you see all next year.

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Register for Year 16 now!

Also, registration for Fall workshops is open now. Take your spontaneous composition skills to the next level.

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