Back at the start of the year I began a project called Poetry Postcards.
The idea was that I would write a very long poem that would still work when broken down into one hundred sections. Each section was written on the front of a postcard and these cards were sent around the world in a random order. I sent them free of charge, the only thing I asked for in return was that the recipient posted a picture of the card online somewhere I can see it. Depending on how quickly they got there and how soon people posted the images the whole shape of the poem would change.
I hoped that this would get a hundred different people involved in writing the poem and then re-reading the new one that they helped to create. I wanted to show that writing a poem can be done in lots of different ways. I am inspired by ideas from a lot of people, often those who believe that they aren’t interested in poetry or can’t get anything out of it, and I wanted a way to involve a whole bunch of different people including those who don’t normally read my (or perhaps any) poetry.
It has been almost nine months and I still have sixty postcards left. The idea was always that I would have three poems at the end of the project. The first would the the original poem that I wrote. The second would be the poem created by images sent back to me from people who had received poems. And the third was always going to be the ones that I didn’t manage to send or that got lost in the post.
Admittedly I had hoped that I would have sent out more than I kept back but never mind. I had a last push a month ago sending them out unsolicited for the first time to people who I thought might be interested but that was also largely unsuccessful.
I had high hopes but low expectations for this project – as with anything involving a lot of people it was a difficult sell but also I was asking for information that people are often unwilling to give.
I still love the idea and I’m hugely grateful for all of the people who did get involved.
I’ll be spending the next couple of days sorting through the poems and writing them up. For anyone following along with the Tumblr of the project that will now become a more general poetry site rather than just about the project, so please do stick around!
Luckily I have lots of other things going on so this isn’t leaving me lazy and without work! I’m sad that this didn’t go as well as I had hoped but I’m very glad to have tried it out.