Dave Garbutt PPF Afterword

September 22, 2021
by Paul Nelson

Figure 6: The Eight Haiku Masters, Japan, Yosa Buson (1716-1783), Museum Rietberg Zurich, foto: Rainer Wolfsberger

# Post card poetry #

I forget now where I saw the first mention of this project, but I remember that I was immediately intrigued, thought for 30 seconds and signed up.

I have been retired for 5 years now and during a full and demanding work life I got used to having to extemporise plans, projects and actions, so how could a post card be hard? I had a stash of cards I had built up over years, starting when we still sent postcards to each other and agonised over their composition.

I picked a selection of cards, some birds, some local places (although I am a Londoner by birth I have been living in Switzerland for 27 years), some places I knew, art from exhibitions I have seen and even a few cards I bought back in the 70’s. These seemed hopeful starts.

I have been writing poems since I was seventeen and always had the view that  ‘the first draft is the greatest’ as Rod Stewart sang. In the 90’s after my first marriage failed I started up with poetry again and went along to a writing group and discovered the joys of getting useful feedback and re-drafting, and actually crafting a poem. This project seemed like an edgy way to let that demand go—write a poem, post it off. Say goodbye.

The physical space is also a challenge and there is no feeling like being halfway down a card with no idea how to end it 🙂 The space determines the form in a way, just as a rhyme scheme might, you want to use all the space, so no short lines here, and you can fit about 10 lines in. Depending on your pen, of course. I resolved to write mine with a fountain pen and waterproof ink, no editing, no going back. No cheating with a first draft in pencil or with a very fine pen. I normally started from the picture and I tried to fit in one a day to my schedule (since I retired and my wife still works, and my daughter of 17 is still at school I do the cooking and dog walking).

How was it? Great, it was much fun, there was a certain freedom sending off poems to people I had not met, and the longer I did it, the more ideas seemed to pop up, unexpectedly, and (this is the secret) always welcome. I scanned every out going card and started a collection of the poems and I look back satisfied. And receiving so many cards back has also been a spark in my day, although they are still coming because the post to/from the USA doesn’t seem to be the fastest.

So thanks to Paul and the organisers and all the people that sent me cards, I will certainly be back next year

Three Disclaimers

Buying into this poem
carries a future risk
identified by phrases such as `may’
`could lead to’
`is like a’
The value of any poem can fall
you may not get back
the time you spent reading,
an author’s past performance
is not a guide to future readings.
This poem is a medicine
ask your doctor or pharmacist
before taking it
study the noted side effects
read the package insert
before it self-destructs.
This poem has no right
to remain silent.
Everything it says
will be held against it.
It has no right
to be assumed
best regards,
Dave Garbutt

Dornach, Switzerland


(Dave can send you a pdf of his postcard poems via WeTransfer if you’d like. The file is too large to put here.)

Register for Year 16 now!

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


  1. Nancy Parr

    Snorted with amusement at Three Disclaimers.

    Thank you, Dave!

  2. Diana

    Great story, Dave – and as Nancy said, thanks for the disclaimer-laughs!

  3. Sandi Gajewski

    Yes, thus project of poem crafting is indeed a worthwhile investment of our time. I was surprised it took me all month to complete! Love your disclaimers! I so look forward to year 16 of sending and receiving new poems!

  4. Diana

    Love the 3 disclaimers! Great wrap-up. Welcome to the PoPo family!


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