Monday, August 26, 2013

POSTCARD PROJECT # 26: "Somewhere around 36,000 feet"

This William Eggleston photograph has haunted me since the first time I saw it.  Things look so GOOD: the pretty sky, window seat, sparkly drink, delicate hand.  Then  you see the shadow of the unseen woman's hand, and it's so dang SCARY - like one of those movies where you can only see the monster's real shape in the mirror or something!  Duplicity ... Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde ... the way betrayal happens to you like a bad accident.  I also like the title: "En Route to New Orleans."  The kind of place where anything could happen. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013


So I looked at this postcard for a long, long time, trying to make a list of all the different cartographic words scattered around.  Pretty soon, that list began to take on a life of its own; I began to think beneath the words on the postcard, on the map, in my head.  What would my own private map of this map look like as a poem??

Then Wordle came to my rescue.  If you haven't tried a Wordle "Word Cloud," please do!  You can play with background and font colors, font sizes and types, orientation on the page ... it's poetry, visual poetry, and sometimes very emotionally revealing poetry.


(The original Wordle made with my list; some bits were trimmed off when I printed it out for the postcard.  The little, tiny, unreadable words are the names of continents, countries.  I decided it was right that they should matter so little.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

POSTCARD PROJECT #21: "World Atlas"

I like maps.  I despise maps.

I like them for the ways they try to make sense of the world, which is impossible (but it's so important to think is possible).

I also really like subversive maps, or as these guys call them, subversive cartographies. One of my favorite maps is this one:

In fact, I taped this map up in the room I taught in one semester.  It got a lot of double-takes from students, and provoked a lot of good conversations.  I remember one student who could not even locate the United States using this map; he was that disoriented, which is the whole point.  Not completely sure that had a great effect on my course evaluations, however.

Maps can be empowering, because they give the makers a certain amount of control (even if it is only imaginary).  The map above would be a good example of empowerment for people in the Southern Hemisphere, for example; not so much for North American students.  But often, it's a case of map or be mapped.  You know:  if you don't do the mapping, the colonizers will do it for you - but doesn't that mean you are helping to colonize yourselves?  The quandaries!

So I bought some map postcards and will be playing around with them for awhile, I'm sure.  After all, my first book of poems was called Indian Cartography, and I'm pretty sure I'm not done with THAT mapping at all.

#21:  "World Atlas"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

POSTCARD PROJECT #20, "The Gluten-Free Chicano Celebrates Bread" (lines from FaceBook posts)

I've got this great set of postcards featuring William Eggleston photographs.  He's perfect for writing stuff that's a little off the wall.  This particular postcard seemed to me to be about getting a meal in a strange place, noticing the oddities all around, especially as regards food.  This image dovetails with the fact that I'd noticed a lot of FaceBook posts today and yesterday about food (it IS one of the more popular topics on which to post), and so I collected the first ten or so that crossed my feed today and put them into this poem.  Yes, my FB friends: you may recognize your own food-related rantings!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

POSTCARD PROJECT: #11, #12, #13, #14 - CATCHING UP!

Life gets hectic, and my postcard motivation dropped.  But it's back, and I'm all caught up today.

#11 - "Interpretations"

#12 - "Careless Atlantic."

#13 - "Lizard"

#14 - "Endure"

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Dug this postcard out of my office mess as I unpack from yet another move.  Calamity Jane spent all of last year on my bulletin board next to my desk.  It's time she got back on that train and headed out for a stiff drink and a few dancing girls!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Deceptively simple:  one poem, on one postcard, mailed to one person per day for the month of August: THE AUGUST POSTCARD POETRY FESTIVAL.

Yep, I'm already two days behind.  It's my first time, okay?!

So here are the first three postcards/poems for August 1, 2 and 3.  Although I typed and taped the poems to the postcard (handwritten is supposedly the pure form), and that's technically a cheat, I DID in fact compose them each in under five minutes and they are what they are (until someday I go back and either revise or put them out of their misery).

Obviously, I need to up my postcard collection FAST.  I mean, I had to fall back on Painted Cats and Smithsonian Indians!  'nuff said.  I also blurred out the recipient's names/addresses.  Although the list is public, they might not appreciate over-publication of their mailing addresses.

Stay tuned for my daily postcard.  If you really love me, send some unique (unused) postcards my way.  Perhaps you'll see them here, with poem attached!