With November receding far into the distance – how was THAT for a December that got a bunch of chemicals dumped on it in the middle of a lightning storm, hah? – it’s time to reflect upon the remainder of my poetic postcard correspondence with Ms. Ivy Alvarez. So here are some more poemstcards for your perusal and handwriting interpretation (PS – here’s part one).
I can’t speak for Ivy, but I continued to bodge up drafts of existing poems for these cards, making it less of a generate-new-work project as a revision-of-old-work project, but writing is writing and I do precious little enough of it at the best of times, so I’m going to call this a win, even though I was egregiously late with my cards a couple of times.
The other thing I struggled with was fitting the damn poems on a single card in a way that still left room for the address, the stamp and the air mail sticker. I came up with all kinds of tricks to squeeze the buggers on there, from multiple cards (three cards for my third poem) to squishy teeny handwriting, invoking the old right-hand-hanging-indent trick I first saw in a collection of Shakespeare’s plays when I was eleven, and utilising creative stamp positioning. In the end I discovered that the best way to fit a poem onto a postcard is to write a short poem. Whodathunk?
It was wonderful getting a new I. Alvarez poem (on time) every week. Ivy seemed to be delving into a wellspring (I think that’s a mixed metaphor, only I’m not sure what delving actually is) of dreams and fairy-tales, turning out some darkly surreal prose poems as her half of the bargain. Some of the lines images from her five poems still rattle around my head at random, like “white coal is chalk” and the bit about spoons with heft scooping the eyes out of baby animals.
For my part I felt that the five poems I sent to Ivy were quite eclectic, and a bit patchy too, compared to hers, which seemed coherent and confident to me, but perhaps that’s what it feels like reading your own work in progress. I liked the ones about sorrow, zombies and cowboys/aliens the most, and the one about commuting the least.
I did get a nice bit of feedback from a friend of Ivy’s about my final poem, a riff on zombie movies (that was actually rejected by the zombie issue of cordite, but which has been reworked a bit since). Apparently Ivy’s friend read it and said, “It’s like a movie.” So there’s that.
All in all a great way to spend November, cantilevering the guilt from falling steadily behind the prescribed NaNoWriMo wordcount with the guilt from sending inferior poems late halfway across the world. I recommend it to you all.
In point of fact, Ivy and I both enjoyed the writing and workshopping and reading of each other’s work enough to agree to continue to swap poemstcards on a slightly less frenetic schedule (though I did completely blow the first deadline by three weeks – I blame Christmas), and I’m thinking of maybe doing something similar with some other poets sometime down the track too.