April 12, 2016

Friday, November 30, 2012

Poetry Friday: Poetry Postcard 1

Next year, I am turning 44.
If I lived in Birmingham, UK, I'd rock in my birthday here:
This feels like a magical birthday to me. Of course, I spent all of 42 telling my family, "I am the answer to life, the universe and everything," but this is different. If you make my birthday, February 22, into a mathematical equation it looks like this 2 x 22 = 44.

Inspired by artist Sherry Richert Belul's birthday celebration, in which she gave, rather than received gifts, I started planning a birthday poetry project.

I am in the process of collecting 44 antique postcards to use as poetry prompts. The cards, with their poems, will go out as poetry mailbox "bombs" between now and February 22, 2013.

This week, I began working on the first postcard. I found it in a local antique shop with my friend, writer Mindy Abbott.

Ellicott City is famous for antiques and restaurants.

(I live just two miles from old Ellicott City, a historic area of our town dating to pre-Revolutionary times. The town was the terminus of the Baltimore & Ohio's first 13 miles of railroad track in the United States. If you believe in the race between a horse and the early Tom Thumb engine, it happened here. Today, Main Street is filled with antique shops, boutiques and restaurants. Not too upscale. Just about right for a day of wandering.)

The cards I have chosen so far are blank on the back, since I'll be filling in the poems. But I couldn't resist this card, maybe because of the writing.

The majority of the cards I found were from the 1950s. Not this one. When I got home, I turned it over and found the cancellation: May 29, 1908 (the year my grandmother was born).

What I found fascinating was the play of sounds between "Morris" -- who the card is addressed to -- and "Maurice." I pictured Bertha (she's marked "Berks, C.O." on the bottom of the card) intoning "Maurice" to romanticize plain old Morris back home in Lenhartsville, PA.

Here is the poem I started this week: 

Postcard, 1908
by Laura Shovan

Maurice, Maurice --
thirty-one beauties call your name.
Their megaphone hats echo
from Bertha in Berks, Colorado
to you, Morris Bauscher,
in Lenhartsville, PA.
Maurice, how tempting, the shape
of a girl’s lips as she speaks
this version of your name.
Surely, Bertha in Berks intoned,
“Morris, Maurice” as she licked
this one cent stamp. I hear her,
though I’m crouched in an antique shop
a century past your cancellation date.

Who knows, maybe Morris/Maurice will end up in your mailbox.

If you'd like a poetry postcard for my birthday, send me an email with your mailing address. If you have some antique postcards you'd like to donate or get rid of, send me an email and I'll get you my mailing address.

Have a great Poetry Friday! Our host today is Amy LV at the Poem Farm.

P.S. After I wrote this post, my husband said, "Why don't you search Morris Bauscher?" Good thing I keep him around. I never would have thought of that! I'll post an update on Morris tomorrow.


Liz Steinglass said...

What a great way to celebrate!
I will keep my eye out for postcards...

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Liz! That would be wonderful.

Irene Latham said...

Yay for 44 and for your new project! I have some postcards I want to send you. AND instead of me (though I would LOVE it) I have a poetry lover who would absolutely thrill at a postcard-poem arrival. Will send you the address. Happy writing, friend! Oh, and I just saw a collection of short stories inspired by antique Las Vegas postcards. Stories abound!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Irene. Thank you! Thank you! I'd love some postcards from you. The thought of sending a poetry card to a friend of a friend fills me with glee. Do you have the title of that short story collection? Sound like my kind of book.

Linda B said...

Hi Laura, what a fabulous idea for your 2 x 22. I love your poem, thinking about those people so long ago. I imagine things about people when I see the old photos & have collected photos for my students to write from too. As you've seen, I'm cleaning out Laura for my move, & I have found old 'blank' cards. I'll send some in our holiday exchange. I know you have my address, would love a birthday, poetry prompt.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Love, love, love! I recently bought a tiny wooden box in an antique shop - roughly 2 1/2 X 5 1/2 inches with a sliding top, addressed to Mr. E. N. Chisolm in Lealyn, Pa. - postal cancellation Mar. 25, 1909. What was sent in it? (I had to have it!) Would love a postcard, too - will email you. And would love a rendezvous to discuss poetry, numerology, old cool stuff, etc. - one of these days!

Tabatha said...

Great idea, Laura! I'm 42 and I realize now that I've been wasting my opportunity to proclaim myself the answer to life, the universe, and everything. I would be happy to send you antique postcards, but only if you need more! Let me know. And of course I'd love a poem postcard from you. :-)

Sherry Richert Belul said...

LOVE this!!!!! What a fabulous — and magical — birthday celebration!!! :-)

Renee LaTulippe said...

Ooh, this is right up my alley, though I prefer the used postcards, to think about the person who wrote it, who it's addressed to, their relationship - just look at how it ignited your imagination! I relate to this poem; this could be me: "I’m crouched in an antique shop a century past your cancellation date."

I have letters and envelopes between my grandfather and grandmother when he was in the trenches in WWI. My favorite envelope, with the spidery writing, is addressed to my grandfather "Somewhere in France." And somehow it made it.

I looked up Morris/Maurice. He was born in 1882 and died in 1963. That's as far as I got.

Jeannine Atkins said...

I, too, love this celebration. I've got a guess of who Irene wants the card sent to. Such sweetness.

I just read another friend's blog in which her goal was to run for fifty minutes on her fiftieth birthday, and she did. That was pretty inspiring, too. Love hearing about all this joy in the world.

jama said...

I love your poetry postcard idea -- 44 is going to be a fabulous year for you! Antique postcards are fascinating; I always like to make up stories for the people and places I see in them.

Your Maurice/Morris poem reminded me of Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees. I was surprised to learn that he always pronounced his name as "Morris." A British thing?

I'll also keep an eye out for any postcards that might inspire interesting poems. :)

Author Amok said...

Wow, everyone! I'm so glad you all like this project. Linda B -- thank you. I can't wait to see the postcards that you'll send.

Robyn -- that box sounds mysterious. You're sure to get a story or a poem out of it. (It's all about the stories we tell ourselves, right? Even the numerology.)

Renee, those are the dates I found, too, but I did manage to get a little bit more. Will post tomorrow.

Regarding the Bee Gees, yes, Jama, I had heard the same thing. Maurice Gibb was on my mind as I thought of Morris/Maurice.

Melinda Bennington said...

I do enjoy time travel adventures with you, Ms. Amok! You know how to find inspiration in the coolest corners, and evoke a mood with the briefest of lines - her lips, the licking of the stamp. I'd love a poetry bomb! A much better than in-college-making-bad-decisions way of getting bombed :-D

Susan Taylor Brown said...

What a fabulous idea for a birthday project! Ooh, makes me want to come up with one for myself. Will ponder.

I just came across some postcards my mom had given me that had been sent to her from her penpal in the Netherlands. So there is some writing on the back, I think. But they are movie star/pin up ones. I think I have 2 or 3. Let me know if you want them or one and I'll send them your way.

Love Maurice's poem. Looking forward to more.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Awesome project, Laura. I've stopped by the bins of postcards at antique stores many a time and rummaged through....but you've taken it another step and brought in the creativity.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Mindy -- you got it!

Susan and Tara, thank you. I would love a few cards, or use what you have/find yourselves and share the results with me!

Ruth said...

What a wonderful idea! I did the same thing you did when I was 42, too. :-)

Amy LV said...

Fabulous and fun and forty-four! You are extremely cool, and not only do I want a postcard, I will see if I can find one for you...and I will plan a birthday project for me - thank you for your joy for life. It oozes all over this post, through my screen, and into me. a.

Amy LV said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Author Amok said...

Ruth -- I had a friend who threw her husband a Hitchhiker's Guide birthday party. Everyone brought his own towel.

Amy -- thank you so much for that comment. You made my day!

clarinda said...

I will send you my snail mail address pronto and also will see if I can part w/ any antique photos. Needless to say, postcards I got when I was a teenager are antiques! Thanks too for the kind mention of the pretend postcards LPR published a while back.

Happy day(s!)


clarinda said...

I would love to get a birthday postcard from you! And I'll rummage among postcards sent to me when I was a teenager to see if there are any I can part with. Needless to say, as one whs has the very symmetrical birthdate of 3/9/39, any card sent to me in my youth is an antique!

laurasalas said...

Oh, my. Love, love this. That last line is so wonderful!

I would adore a postcard (I'm at P.O. Box 122, Osseo, MN 55369).

What a fun project, Laura!

Ellen L. Ramsey said...

What a splendid way to celebrate a birthday and allow lots of other people to celebrate also! I love your post.

Jone said...

Love this project. Happy early birthday.

Ruth said...

I linked to this in my post today, because I'm starting a project leading up to my birthday, and you were definitely part of my inspiration!