Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Cassie Lewis, poet and impresario, reports her first two sales of Postcard Poems books through the media juggernaut that is SHAMPOO. These books are beautifully written (by Cassie, Stephanie Young, Del Ray Cross, and Jennifer Dannenberg) and assembled with loving care by Cassie in her Fremont studio. Buy yours today! (Okay, I realize anyone who's reading this probably already has their own copies. But it can't hurt.)

Cassie and I did a month of postcards back in January (appearing soon in a chapbook near you) and it was totally exhilirating. The exchange of poems made the discipline of writing each day a pleasure, and I found the form liberating: only so much could fit on one card, after all, and there was another tomorrow, so I simply kept going with the hope that the sequence as a whole might make some kind of sense. I also loved the cards as physical objects--when visiting my parents over the holidays I had dug up an old shoebox full of postcards that we had collected from various places, probably as souvenirs, but had never sent. There was a huge cache of '70s Disneyland postcards, although of course from the front you could hardly tell--Mickey and Minnie don't exactly update their wardrobes. Part of the game became incorporating text from the cards into the poems, often as a title:

It All Started with a Mouse

& the women who dared
to know him, plump
in his tails & 2-button
pants. Though it isn’t raining
today, a little old woman
in a black bonnet ties
one on; winter meetings
have been banned outright.
Inside the castle, new friends
are gathering round the oven,
warming their oversized hands.

Some of my favorite poems, though, emerged from the exchanges themselves, when I responded to (or blatantly stole) lines from Cassie's postcards to me. William Blake became a recurring character after Cassie asked, "Do you ever have William Blake days?"

How to Survive an Avalanche

Money is no
object, says William Blake.
So what do you
do? A thousand wells
are being drilled in the desert.
A cold front’s developing
while you shop, using
a freestlye swimming motion.
Hard luck. That childhood
forest calls to me.

And the one-a-day rhythm seems to have changed my experience of time as well. Usually when I think back on a month it's all a blur, but the days of January have a discreteness, a measured pace, as if each one counted for something, which of course it did.

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