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Tag Archives: postcards

found poem: anyone

and yet another postcard…

Oberndorfer-Aarons card

Oberndorfer-Aarons card backI know so little of my grandfather (seated at right, with his sister’s husband). I think my mother liked him, but she didn’t talk about him much except to say he was the youngest of ten children, always a joker, ready with a prank, and he died young.

In his six-page handwritten letter to his future in-laws asking for my grandmother’s hand, he wrote, “…promise you now & forever that you will not find me lacking in any detail of true manliness, & devotion for your dear and my dear.”

His gold wedding band, on my middle finger, is engraved inside, January 15, ’07. My mother wore it; she had it on when she died.

Here, at age 27, his life more than half over, bowlered and cigared and finely dressed in the voluminous fashion of 1910, he looks like he can barely contain the impulse to jump up and be silly.

in sepia memory
color of your eyes
          unseen
timbre of your voice
          unheard
chromosomal gift
          unopened

another postcard…

Elsie and Jake postcard back

Elsie and Jake plus two unknown -- postcardNo note suggests the place or tells their names. Nothing in their faces says Wish you were here. But in their Edwardian garb, their solemn stares, my grandfather’s firm grip on my grandmother’s arm, the faint trace of ivied column in the background, the image says occasion. The postcard was never sent, and shall not be.

Still cinched into
my slenderness
my practiced gaze
behatted bride
I do not know
that you will die
so soon but only
that your earnest
heat can melt my ice
and make me laugh.

© j.i. kleinberg 2013

practice

POST CARD

1914 - D on burroFor the third year, I am participating in the August Poetry Postcard Fest. It works like this: you sign up, gather 31 postcards and stamps, then on each day of August you write a postcard-size poem onto one of the cards and mail it to the next person on the list. In turn, you receive poetry postcards, somehow always a surprise and a delight, even though you anticipate their arrival.

The send/receive ratio is not always perfect, but I take the challenge seriously and write a fresh poem each day, rough drafts to be sure, usually inspired by the image on the card.

After last year’s fest, I decided to continue the daily practice, sans postcards, each morning drafting a tiny poem inspired by whatever is on my mind or in my sight. Among those 300-some poems I may later discover something worthwhile, some words that merit further attention, that will perhaps find their way into a new poem. Meanwhile, it’s simply a practice in the many senses of that word.

Today, hoping to pick up my ragged thread of family stories, I found this photo of my mother. Appropriately, it’s a postcard.

we are bundled both
in our winter coats
uncertain strangers
holding very still
warming each other
this moment of love
we will not remember

BETTER…

August 27*

scarlet sweet peas

late summer
such a tease
her rain-dappled
sun-sparkled
green skirts
breeze blown
round scarlet
sweet-pea
petticoats

*August is Poetry Postcard month, which means, for me, that each day starts with a postcard-length poem that is written on an actual postcard and mailed to one of the 31 people on the August Poetry Postcard list. In return, the mailbox yields up a month’s worth of poems and postcards. By the end of August, I’ve written 31 first drafts. This is today’s, which will be mailed to a poet at a school in South Korea.
—–
photo

collecting…

bridge postcardsI used to collect postcards of bridges. It wasn’t an aggressive pursuit, more like opening a door. But over the course of some years, without reason or clear intent, perhaps a thousand of them found their way to me.

In my studio on Madison, in Seattle, I stapled some of them to a wall, the end of one bridge meeting the end of the next in a meandering line. When my parents came to visit me, my father gazed at the postcards for a long time and then said, ‘How long have you been interested in bridges?’ I told him they had fascinated me for years and he shook his head and said he’d always loved bridges and designing a bridge had been one of his earliest projects when he studied civil engineering. It was a connection — a bridge — we had never before discovered. Except for that time, the postcards have never had any purpose beyond fascination with the universal impulse to connect, to reach, to cross the impassable. The box of postcards still languishes in the closet, awaiting some inspiration, some undrawn conclusion.

There are other things that I have many of — books, earrings, maps, purple plates — but none that amount to a collection, none that I lust to own as a body of stuff. These things gather, but also leave, finding their way into other people’s lives. I borrow them; they live with me temporarily, on loan from the universe.

ART/LIFE Volume 4, Number 1

jik ~ ART/LIFE February 1984

cover - ART/LIFE Vol 4, No 1ART/LIFE was an amazing and widely collected monthly publication, hand-assembled from limited-edition multiples submitted by contributors from all over the planet. Starting with the postcard pictured here, I discovered the words-within-the-words, pasted down a line of tape between a word and its source, copied the whole thing (as illustrated above) and then, with a length of cotton cord, tied an actual postcard to the printed copy. Each of 160 copies was numbered by hand and the copies sent off to Santa Barbara for inclusion in ART/LIFE Volume 4, Number 1.

More about ART/LIFE here and on Facebook.

post post…

wordhash ~ postcard ~ © j.i. kleinberg

One cupboard in my studio is crammed with boxes of postcards. I love postcards, and back in the 20th century, long before computers would do everything and a couple of clicks would turn words into wordle, I designed a bunch of them and had them printed.

Abandoning my earlier efforts with ransom-note-style words clipped from magazines, I moved into the (then, to me) fantastically high-tech world of dry-transfer lettering. Writing is (almost) always done one letter at a time. But this work gave new meaning to the process, searching for the right font and the right letter from scores of Letraset sheets (damn! all the k’s are gone), carefully rubbing each letter onto blue-grid paper, hoping the letter wouldn’t crack or deform the paper or lift off part of another word…

The resulting postcards, printed on creamy paper, sold here and there, and got posted to family, friends and mail-art correspondents around the world. But a thousand is a lot of postcards and there are still some left in the cupboard, waiting to find a loving home, a stamp, a place on a bulletin board…

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