The August Poetry Postcard Fest was initiated in 2007 by poets Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers. 2019 marks the thirteenth year of the fest and this is the official call. It is the biggest annual fundraiser for SPLAB.
Again this year poets will be organized in groups of 32 and the list will be released as each group gets the required amount of participants, or the registration period ends. The signup will end July 18. Registration is a minimum $10 contribution to participate this year which will go to fund SPLAB operations. SPLAB was founded in 1993. (See this.)
1. Make sure you want to do this. It means writing at least 31 original poems onto cards and mailing them by August 31. There are no excuses short of (lord forbid) injuries, sickness or other unfortunate events, but if you sign up, please send 31 cards. (& use good penmanship. Remember THAT?!?)
2. Look to see where your name is on your list. You will get a list emailed to you after July 4 or soon after your group hits 32 participants and NOT when you pay the registration fee. Make sure your info is correct and each address is complete. LET ME KNOW ASAP IF NOT. Each group will have 32 poets. I’ll send the whole list to all participants when registration has closed. Please feel free to send this email, or the link to this event to post friends, or creative writing teachers. We hope to expand participation significantly in the next few years.
3. When you see your name on the list you get for your group, start sending original poems to those three people JUST BELOW your name. ie: If you are #10 on the list, you should send cards to: # 11 #12, #13 &c. Start when you get your list. If you want to wait until August 1 to begin, that’s ok. If you want to have more time to write 31 poems, start when you get your list. If you are at the bottom of the list, start with the names at the very top. ie: #32 will send to #1, #2 & #3. Send postcards until you have sent at least 31 total, continuing down from your name and going to the bottom, then going to the top of the list. (Some people also pick out a few extra poets, friends, neighbors, and write 35 or 40! I will provide all the participant addresses, but not until the registration closes.)
4. Once you start receiving poems, if there is a thread, a tone, an image, a fragrance, something that can inspire you in the next poem you send, use it. If not, don’t worry. Please refer to the call and the handy links there for more help on the how of this. https://www.paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest and other links that drop down from there.
If you have people from outside your country on the list YOU MUST SEND EXTRA POSTAGE. From the US, in 2018, see: https://www.stamps.com/usps/postage-rate-increase/ Addresses out of the U.S. cost $1.15 in 2019. Some people recognize that the stamp itself can add flair to the card. If you send oversized cards, you’ll need a regular letter stamp in the U.S. See also: https://postcalc.usps.com/
Also from the USPS, note:
“You may think that your mailpiece is a “postcard,” because it is a single sheet of paper. But to qualify for mailing at the First-Class Mail postcard price, it must be:
At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick
No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick…”
6. If you are on Facebook, check out the Facebook Postcard Fest page. Many people get excited about the fest, but I would suggest writing your poems and then chatting about them on the Facebook page or other social media AFTER the fest. Let’s try to recreate a feeling of the time BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA. That page is moderated and posts will not be allowed if the spirit of the fest is violated. Spamming that list will result in the spammer being banned from the group and nasty poems being written about them.
7. DO NOT POST YOUR POEMS ONLINE UNTIL 30 DAYS AFTER THEY GET SENT and longer if the card was sent overseas. Pity to see it online before it arrives in the box. Kinda defeats the purpose. Also, ASK PERMISSION to post other people’s poems. OK? The image is fair game, but make sure the poet who sent you the poem grants permission for you to publish in any way.
8. Just putting this list together is a task. If you can get a question about the fest answered by reading something here (and all the links above) please do. Leave a comment in the comment section.
9. Document your cards before sending them out. Scanning both sides is one way, if you have a home scanner. Then re-typing the poems and recreating the line breaks is the way I have done it. There are many examples on this blog. See: https://www.paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest-2014-afterword/ and https://www.paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest-2013-afterword/ and https://www.paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest-2015-afterword-2/
10. Have fun. This fest is designed to get you to trust your gut in the act of composition. Learning about the traditions of spontaneity in North American poetry and other disciplines has been life-changing for me and if you participate with trust in the process, you’ll also experience some degree of liberation, a little high, or both. Goddess-speed.