April 12, 2016

Monday, February 4, 2013

Guest Postcard Fanatic: Charles Rammelkamp

I am working on five hours of sleep today. What kept me up until after midnight?

Photo: Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XLVII Champions!

Purple Fever!
I predicted a Ravens
Championship months ago.
What woke me up at five this morning? Stupid body clock. 

While I recover from the anxiety of watching that down-to-the-last-second nail biter, author Charles Rammelkamp is taking over blogging duties.

I met Charles at the Lit & Art reading a couple of weekends ago. I read some poems from the 44 Postcard Project. The next day, I received a message from Charles.

"I LOVE POSTCARDS! My twin brother in Los Angeles and I send each other a postcard every day."

I had to know more. Today, Charles is visiting Author Amok to tell us about this tradition.

Charles' brother fills each card with details about his day.

My twin brother Robert and I exchange postcards maybe 5 or 6 days a week. He lives in Los Angeles, and I live in Baltimore. In the past twenty years we have actually seen each other only three times: in 1994 at our father’s funeral in Michigan, in 2005 at our older brother’s funeral in Albuquerque, and this past August, 2012, at our mother’s funeral in Michigan. We’re the last survivors clinging to the life-raft of the nuclear family. We sign our cards with the names of the ghosts of the past from our little Michigan town. “Love, Roger Marshall,” Bob might sign and I might respond with a card signed “Love, Sequanda Watts.” Totemic figures from our long-ago childhood, people we haven’t seen in almost half a century.

Queen of National Hot Dog Week from
Beauty Queens of the '40s and '50s
2729 Pomegranate Communications, Inc.
Though we haven’t spent much time together, we’re never out of touch – phone calls, letters, e-mails, and, most conspicuously, postcards. And as twins –fraternal, not identical – we figure prominently in the novels of each other’s lives. If Facebook is e-mail with lipstick, postcards are the haiku of correspondence, vital little messages there for anybody to read, private conversation that’s nevertheless like graffiti on the sides of buildings.

Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros
By William Adlophe Bouguereau
The J. Paul Getty Museum
Postcards come in many varieties, some purchased at tourist shops during vacations, some from art museum gift shops; many are freebies picked up at random from restaurants and stores, promotional “Go Cards” that advertise different businesses.

My brother has always been a traveler, spent many years in Mexico and Latin America; he met his wife, Lourdes, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, her hometown. Since resuming life in the United States, he has settled in Los Angeles, about two decades there now, by my reckoning, where he translates for Spanish speakers in the LA County court system. But he still takes interesting trips to places where he collects postcards to send me – Tahiti, Tunisia, Turkey, Panama, Cuba.

I love the postcard books published by Pomegranate in California: Black Fives: African-American Basketball Teams, 1904-1950 Book of Postcards, The Reading Woman Book of Postcards, Adolphe-William Bouguereau Book of Postcards, No More! A Gallery of Protests and Demonstrations Book of Postcards, Beauty Queens of the 40’s and 50’s….

I also pick up cards from the yoga studio, restaurants, poetry readings, art galleries, service areas on the turnpike. They arrive in the mail from literary magazines, animal rescue outfits, philanthropic organizations, travel promos: artifacts of American civilization, fodder for time capsules.

Charles Rammelkamp lives in Baltimore. His latest book, Fusen Bakudan (“Balloon Bombs” in Japanese), was published in 2012 by Time Being Books. It’s a collection of monologues involving missionaries in a leper colony in Vietnam during the war. Charles edits an online literary journal called The Potomac - He is also a fiction editor for The Pedestal Check out his fiction feature in issue #70, stories about a character named Mark Nipple.

Order at Use coupon code CHARLES for a discount.

“Postcards are the haiku of correspondence” is a phrase that spoke to me. They provide windows, brief glimpses into the lives of the writer.

Thanks, Charles, for sharing your postcard story today.

The next postcard/poem is #22. Interesting numerology, as we are talking about twins. It is also the halfway point of the project. I will post that poem, which I had to talk out of its burning desire to be a sonnet, tomorrow.

(Charles and all – Postcard #22 is also from a book published by Pomegranate, 30 Contemporary Women Artists.)


Magdalena said...

“Postcards are the haiku of correspondence” also spoke to me. Actually, it smacked me upside the head. I love that line.

Author Amok said...

"...private conversation that’s nevertheless like graffiti on the sides of buildings." Charles has a wonderful voice as a writer. It's got a little edge and a little nostalgia. And I *love* the hot dog queen. I loathe hot dogs, so it is good to see they are good for something other (a skirt!) than stuff-your-face eating contests.

Tabatha said...

Loved hearing about Charles and his brother's postcards! I am curious about Fusen Bakudan.

Also, happy that your purple hair was not in vain!