The Postcard Dilemma

resize_400x400_seniI love postcards. I’m a fan in general of souvenirs but nine times out of ten or even 99/100 if I buy anything at all, it’s postcards. When I travel, I tend to get postcards everywhere then spend my time in the evenings at local bars or coffee shops (or on trains or busses) writing them out and sending them from my next stop. 

I often buy more than I need and I end up with stacks of them at home. These are great, they remind me of where I’ve been, they’re perfect for sending someone a short note and I’ve even used them in creative writing classes as odd prompts for midterm and final exam stories. Often, the pictures are better than you could take yourself, or from and angle or showing features you’d never get on your own, so there’s an added plus.

The biggest problem, though, is what to say when you’re writing them. There’s only so many times you can say “the weather’s great, wish you were here” before it really sounds hollow. And you don’t want to write too much or too little, and just saying “hey, was thinking of you” seems lame.

So I hit upon a solution, thanks in part to my poet friend Gregory who will, from time to time, do a round of what he calls “postcard poetry.” You send him a topic and he’ll send you a postcard with an original poem. Now, he’s an actual poet. His stuff has been published everywhere, he’s got several chapbooks out, including the fabulous Book of 13 (and if you click that link above and subscribe, you’ll get topical poems in your in-box from time to time). Me? Not so much. Fiction sure, but poetry is better left to the professionals and the heartsick 15-year-olds.

Haiku though… Haiku I could do.

So that’s what I’ve started doing – All my postcards now contain an original Travel Haiku. I don’t repeat them and I try to make them relate to the image or to the person (or both, if I’m particularly lucky). It solves the problem of what to write on a postcard and at at the same time gets my own creativity flowing just a little bit.

So if you ever want or get a postcard from me… know there will be a bit of poetry on it. It’s good for the soul.

What do you do on your postcards?

4 thoughts on “The Postcard Dilemma

  1. Dang, that’s a great idea. I used to be an active Postcrosser for a few years, and I was frequently running out of ideas of what to write on them – you get bored of always introducing yourself or your city/country but then you don’t want to sound rude and emotionless by writing just one sentence either. This sounds like something very useful, if you don’t mind others using that idea.

  2. You should check out Postcrossing 🙂
    I’ve been and active member there for 8 years now. Writing postcards is my way to relax after a long day. It’s also good to practice handwriting, because let’s admit, we don’t do that very often these days. With every sent card you’ll receive one from anywhere in the world. Makes every morning more exciting, when you go check your mailbox.
    Since I usually write cards for strangers, it’s easier to come up with what to write. I introduce myself, say something about my town, my hobbies or just a random fun fact about my life. 🙂 I find it harder to write cards for people I know.
    There are great stores to buy postcards and I would be glad to recommend you some. 🙂

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