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August 19, 2010


Scott Berkun

I love postcards - writing and receiving them - and your post reminded me why.

I remember when I was young of writing postcards without much thinking - some, for sure, but not that much.

Now when I write them there is a potency in the fact there is no undo. I can't erase. There is, in a small selfish way, something big at stake in writing a postcard by hand. Which reminds of me of how much more is at stake in doing anything by hand. And in turn, how much less is at stake at anything done mediated by a computer.

I tend towards being a slow person - slow food, slow conversation, activities that are real, personal, intimate, and unconstrained by the double-edged sword of modern technologies. I find postcards to be a cheap, easy, but powerful reminder to me of the kinds of things that have meaning, at least to me.

Thanks for the post.

David Sherwin

Thanks for your comment, Scott.

I agree in the potency of the "no undo" in every aspect of life, and technology only when necessary. (He says, just having ordered an ice cream maker attachment for his blender from Amazon.com. Why don't I just hand-churn it?)

Some of the writers that I really admire, such as Neil Stephenson, write out all of their (incredibly long) books in longhand first, and I feel like in the loops and rhythms of the prose, in the elegant unfurling of their thoughts, that you can sense the thoughts and feelings in their mind being captured in a more meditated (as opposed to mediated) manner. I do worry that this sensibility may bleed away as the printed word slowly migrates to chip-based tools, but only time will tell. I know I'll still be writing out the things I most care about, and wrestle with most, with pen and ink in my journal.



thanks for this brilliant article. It really demonstrates the essence of what I was hoping participants would experience. There are folks who have done the project for four years who still do not get what you've illustrated here.

No "undo" indeed. It's why Alfred North Whitehead felt the universe was not made up of things but of actual "occasions of experience."


Thanks for your inspired participation.



I, too, love postcards and for years have sent them to my grandchildren(and now my great-grandchildren). A fun way to keep in touch even though they lived very close. It enabled me to share works of art that neither of us could afford and my love of poetry. The poems were rarely serious - celebrating things like National Something on a Stick Day, the sport of pig folding or my adoption of a moose as a pet.

When I found the August Poetry Postcard project I naturally jumped right in. Putting the words directly from my thoughts onto the postcard was sometimes a challenge,m as was an adult audience who might expect more of me.

The best part was the wonderful advantage of opening my mailbox and finding a new poem from a complete stranger. One who certainly did not feel like a stranger after I read the poem.


Wonderful article! Thank you. And fun to read the comments.
YES for opportunities for accessing deeper levels. I loved the spontaneity of the postcards -- loved juxtaposing image and word, my own, and then the energy of the cards received.
I used old postcards from images in the Northeast from the 50's,
old villages, ports, scenic views, as well as scenic views of Rochester New York from 2010 -- which in itself was stirring up thought. Add to that cards from the National Gallery in London and some British postcards collected by my Aunt in 1960. And received cards --
A spider web, and an excerpt of a Sherman Alexie poem, how they carry stories in their bellies... a man holding on to a tree in a hurricane, the cover announcing the book of Sonoma's poet laureate, and the postcard sender's foxy reaction to White Lipstick. This will shake the cover off an old covered bridge,
or "Motif #1" (Red Fishing Shack) in Rockport.
I keep a special file for this project. Prompts for writing groups; a treasure trove for inspiration on those days when the muse is quiet, and I reach in, catch a thread and start spinning, weaving in pieces of a story I had no idea existed.


I love postcards too, and I love sending them out as well. Poetry postcard month is a fantastic idea.

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