Author Archives: Judy

Last call!

clockIf you’ve already submitted your postcard poems and/or artwork for the 56 Days of August anthology, thank you! If you’ve been thinking that you’ll submit them soon, your time has come!

Submissions will close on Tuesday, November 1, at 11:59pm Pacific. Late submissions will not be viewed or considered.

The editors hope to have selections finalized and notifications sent out around January 20, 2017.

To submit your work, you’ll find the guidelines, directions and submission forms on the Submit Poetry Here and Submit Artwork Here pages.

Thanks for postcarding…and thanks for letting us consider your work for the 56 Days anthology.

. . . . .
clock art

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56 Days of August

Okay, recipe you procrastinators — yes, pharmacy you! — we’re moving into the countdown phase for the 56 Days of August anthology. If you’ve been contemplating submitting poems or original postcard artwork, YES, you should! If you’ve been thinking you’d like to submit poems, but they need a little tweaking, get busy!

Since our last post on October 5, we have received submissions of 116 more poems, for a total of 241, and 27 more artworks, for a total of 73.

The editors are firm in their belief that this volume should represent the highest quality in both poetry and art. That means submitting is no guarantee of acceptance, but we hope it gives you some incentive to submit your very best!

To submit poems, go to the Submit Poetry Here page and read and follow the instructions very carefully. To submit artwork, go to the Submit Artwork Here page and read and follow the instructions very carefully.

If you have questions about any aspect of the process, ask now! Leave a Comment or email your question to

Submissions will be open until November 1, 2016.

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October update

Your postcard poem here

Here’s a quick update on submissions to the 56 Days of August anthology. Since our last post on September 20, we have received submissions of 28 more poems, for a total of 125, and 13 more artworks, for a total of 46.

Submissions will be open until November 1, 2016, but we know that October is a very busy month and sometimes things can slip your mind. Send your work soon!

As we’ve said before, please read and follow the guidelines for Poetry and/or Artwork and if you have questions, leave a Comment and we’ll do our best to answer.

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Progress report


Just thought we’d give you a quick update on submissions to the 56 Days of August anthology.

To date, pill we’ve received 97 poems. Most people are sending the full complement of five, but some are submitting just one or two. In addition, we’ve received 33 artwork submissions, again mostly in batches of five.

That seems like a pretty solid start, considering that submissions will remain open through November 1, 2016.

If you’re thinking of submitting — and we hope you are — please follow carefully the guidelines for Poetry and/or Artwork.

A few questions have circulated on the APPF Facebook group, but in case you missed the answers or are not in the group, we’ll share them here:

  • Are edits acceptable or must the poems be submitted “raw”? The editors have agreed that minor edits (especially spelling, punctuation, line breaks) are reasonable, in order to put your poems into publication-worthy shape.
  • Is it okay to submit poems written in July or September? Definitely! As long as they were part of the 2016 Fest (including “bonus” cards).
  • I submitted but didn’t get a confirmation. When you submit to the anthology using the forms for Poetry and/or Artwork on the website, you should get an automatic confirmation email. If you did not get a confirmation, either a) your submission did not go through or b) there was a typo in your email address. In either case, send an email to to verify receipt.
  • What’s the deal with Brown Paper Tickets confirmation numbers? We’ve asked that all submissions, whatever the file format, be identified with a Brown Paper Tickets confirmation/registration/receipt/ticket number (whatever it’s called on your email). While we know this makes the submission process more complicated, it helps to assure that submissions will be judged “blind.” You would have received that number by email from Brown Paper Tickets during the August Poetry Postcard Fest open registration period, July 4-17. If you cannot locate your confirmation number, please send an email to and we’ll send it to you.

If you have other questions, please leave a Comment and we’ll do our best to answer.

And meanwhile, Send poems! Send artwork! You have until November 1 to be part of 56 Days of August!


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Last day….

AugPoPo card stack

When you mark each day with a poem and a postcard, August races by: suddenly it’s the 31st. But the end of the August Poetry Postcard Fest is not necessarily as crisp as you might think.

Yes, some people write and mail their 31 postcard poems and that’s that. But a lot of people miss a day here and there and still have un-postcarded names on their list. If you’re one of the latter, don’t quit and don’t despair: keep writing! If you send those cards out this week or next, or the one after that, they will be just as appreciated as if they had arrived during August.

Still other APPF participants can’t give up the practice and keep sending “bonus” cards. Sometimes they go to postcarding connections from previous Fests, or to Facebook group friends, or even….to everyone on the list! If you’re a poet, the habit of writing a postcard-sized chunk of text each day can really improve your writing.

Whatever your progress with your 31 cards, we hope you will consider submitting poems and/or postcard art for the 56 Days of August anthology. The submission pages and guidelines are now posted — one for Artwork and one for Poetry. The instructions are fairly detailed, so please read and follow them carefully.

Please note: submissions are open to 2016 APPF participants only. You will need to provide your Brown Paper Tickets confirmation number when you submit your poems or artwork (you’re also asked to use your BPT number in naming your files). Registration was open July 4-17 and you would have received a confirmation email from Brown Paper Tickets during that time. Please check your inbox for that email and the confirmation number (it’s a long string of capital letters or letters and numbers). If you cannot locate your confirmation number, please contact APPF at

Submissions will be open September 1 through November 1, 2016. Since there’s no big rush, you may want to set your poems aside for a week or two, then go back and re-read them before making your decisions about what to submit. The editors regret that not all work submitted will be included. Please submit only your very best poems and/or artwork.


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Week One

Charlie Stobert - stamps

One week into the 2016 August Poetry Postcard Fest and the Facebook group is percolating with activity. Here is a recap of some of the recurring themes (not direct quotes):

  • This is so cool!
  • A little scary.
  • My mailbox is still empty.
  • Wow! I’ve gotten all these cards already.
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  • I love your poem, but you didn’t sign it. Who are you?
  • Hooray for postage stamps.
  • Free-writing — yikes!
  • Feeling the flow.
  • Sharing some ideas for prompts.
  • Let’s talk about glue!
  • Be patient; the cards will arrive.

If you’re participating in the 2016 APPF and are not already part of the Facebook group, please consider joining, at least for the next couple of months. It’s a great place to find the spark you need to write that next postcard poem, get practical tips and “meet” the people whose poems are arriving in your mailbox.

And please, for at least the next month, refrain from posting poems or handmade postcard images — yours or those by others.

Thanks for your participation and your wonderful, thoughtful, inspired poems. Happy postcarding!
. . . . .
image courtesy 2016 APPF participant Charlie Stobert, used with permission


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Making poems…

postcard and pen

You have your list of names and addresses. You’ve collected a stack of postcards and stamps. Now what?

Maybe you, like Lisa Choi, will simply “write whatever inspiration strikes me at that moment.” But if you feel a little nervous about setting pen to postcard, you’re not alone.

Let’s start with the hard part: write your poem on the card in one take — no editing.

Here’s what Paul Nelson says in the guidelines: “The idea is to practice spontaneity, to write directly on the card in one take. If it’s hard at the start of the Fest to do that, relax, because it gets better as the month goes on. No one can publish your poem without your permission and you are writing to one person.” Paul adds, “We can level with that person our most immediate and intimate thoughts, which is an amazing gift that can liberate both sender and receiver.”

Ina Roy-Faderman says, “I always thought not ‘practicing’ — that is, writing and rewriting and trying to make it perfect — was both hard and scary.” Linda Crosfield agrees: “It took me about three or four years of doing the exchange before I could actually do it the way Paul suggests, namely write directly onto the card. Doing that was a big leap of faith and has taught me to trust my initial impulse more. First thought/best thought.”

We asked some experienced postcarders for suggestions on getting started. Here are a few ideas:

  • Kim Clark: I prefer to start with a theme (in case it turns into a chapbook).
  • Ina: write a response to the last card you got.
  • Paul: write a poem in response to issues in the news.
  • Ina: write the next five postcards about the view out your kitchen window/a painting you detest/David Bowie’s passing/your favorite foods, etc.
  • Judy: make a list of prompts and select one at random each day; here’s a link to posts tagged prompts on The Poetry Department blog (click on Previous entries at the bottom of each page to see more).
  • Kristin Cleage: Mostly I go around noticing things — the weather, my yard, my neighbors — and then I write something short about it.
  • Paul: start each poem with a quote from a poet whose work interests you (see Paul’s 2013 article How to Write a POstcard POem) [and be sure to credit the quote].
  • Ina: write about the image on your postcard (if there is one).
  • Kristin: Last year I wrote some American sentences so I had to do so many syllables per poem.
  • Paul: here’s part of the original APPF instructions: “Something that relates to your sense of ‘place’ however you interpret that, something about how you relate to the postcard image, what you see out the window, what you’re reading, a dream you had that morning, or an image from it, etc. Like ‘real’ postcards, get to something of the ‘here and now’ when you write.”
  • Ina: write a poem to the mail carrier who will deliver the postcard.
  • Judy: use the last line of yesterday’s poem as the first line of today’s poem.

As Kristin says, “I think you just have to jump in and find your way and relax.”

Have suggestions for poets facing the blank postcard? Please leave a Comment!


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Postcarding: managing the stuff

Linda's file drawer

Linda’s file drawer

Linda's computer record

screen shot of Linda’s outgoing cards

Ina's notebook

Ina’s notebook

Martina's wall of fame

Martina’s wall of fame

Linda's postcard vase

Linda’s postcard vase

Ellen's postcard ring

Ellen’s postcard ring

Judy's chart

Judy’s chart

There are as many ways of approaching the August Poetry Postcard Fest as there are participants. In a future post, we’ll talk about some of the ways postcarders find inspiration. But in this post, we’ll look at a few ideas for organizing the “stuff” of postcarding.

If the very word organized makes you break out in hives, don’t worry: all you really need is 1) postcards, 2) pen, 3) addresses and 4) stamps. You write ’em, you mail ’em, you receive ’em. Done.

But here’s the thing: 31 outgoing and up to 31 incoming postcards plus the address list and appropriate postage stamps is a lot of stuff. Participate for more than one year and you’re into multiples of everything…

Don’t panic! It’s all doable and it’s all been done. So successfully, in fact, that about a quarter of APPF participants return year after year and find, as Linda C. says, “Writing a poem a day in August has proven to be a highlight of my year.”

Here are a few tricks that have proven useful to experienced postcarders (with special thanks to Linda C., Ina, Martina, Linda W., Ellen, and Kim):

Linda C. has designated file folders for each year she participates in APPF (see photo).

She also takes “photos, front and back, of every card I send” and names them with keywords to make them easier to find in her computer (see photo). (If you have a scanner, scans are even clearer than photos.)

More from Linda: “Once written, I transcribe the poem into a Word doc with the name of the person who will receive it.”

Ina keeps her incoming postcards in a three-ring binder (see photo).

Some postcarders dedicate a wall (see Martina’s bathroom-wall collection of every postcard she’s received since APPF 2011!) or bulletin board to incoming cards for the month. Linda W. keeps hers in a beautiful vase (see photo) on the corner of her desk. Ellen collects hers, book-style, on a metal ring (see photo).

Though most people handwrite their postcards, Kim says, “My handwriting is illegible so I have to use the computer for everything. I just keep all the poems in one new folder with the list. I also use a template for the size of poem that will fit on (most) postcards. And once I’ve finished a poem I put it into a master file that will hold them all together and in order.” (The print-out of the poem gets secured to the postcard.)

The things you want to keep track of are: the text of your postcard poems, the date each one was mailed, what was on the image side and who the card went to. You can do that in simple list form. (If you plan to submit to 56 Days, your submissions will need to be typed, so it makes sense to set up a system as you get started.)

Instead of a list, you could make a simple grid, as follows:

sample chart

Enter the names from your list down the left column, then each day after you’ve written your poem, type it into the ‘poem’ column. Add a description (or scan) of the image on the front of the card and the date mailed. Comments can be things like noting that you received a card from that person or, later, where the poem has been published (!). (See photo.)

And a few very practical suggestions:

  • Turn your list into mailing labels
  • Buy stamps ahead of time and be sure to get some international stamps
  • Use return address labels (the clear ones are great)
  • If you don’t use return address labels, be sure to write your name on the card – super frustrating not to know who wrote that wonderful poem!
  • Leave a half inch of blank space below your poem at the bottom of the message side of the card so your poem won’t get obscured by the post office bar code imprint
  • Follow the APPF guidelines on posting/sharing postcards
  • Have fun!

How do you manage your postcard “stuff”? Do you have tips for postcarders? Please leave a comment!


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Go poets!

Paul Nelson 2015 postcards received

Paul Nelson reports that about 85 people have already signed up for the August Poetry Postcard Fest. That means the first two lists have gone out and the third is nearly full. (The lists each have 32 names: one for each day of August, plus self.) Paul’s goal this year is 250 participants; it looks like we’re well on the way. Signups end on Sunday, July 17, 2016, at 11:59pm PDT, so there’s still time to recruit your poet friends. The official Year Ten Call to Poets is here.

If you’re a current or past APPF poet, you can join the APPF group on Facebook to follow the latest goings-on and get inspiration from other postcarders from around the world. And of course we’ll post details here about 56 Days of August, the book, as they are available.

. . . . .
image: Paul Nelson’s received postcards, 2015

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Today’s the day!

August Poetry Postcards

Once again, it’s time to sign up for the August Poetry Postcard Fest. Registration for the 10th annual APPF begins today, July 4, 2016. To pay the small fee and register, you can go directly to Brown Paper Tickets (be sure to complete your address information carefully so postcards will find their way to you through the mail!) and you can get all the Fest details on the official APPF page.

What’s new this year is that participants will be eligible to submit postcard poems for an anthology, 56 Days of August, to be published in October 2017 by Five Oaks Press. To be sure to get the latest information, please subscribe to 56 Days of August!

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