18 Oct Andrew Bell POPO2020 Afterword
AFTERWORD on the experience of August POPO 2020
(by Andrew Bell)
Somehow, through no fault of anyone’s, but perhaps the tyranny of distance, I had drifted out of the POPO circle of communication. I can’t remember the last one I participated in before this year’s one, but I was originally alerted to POPO by the Seattle poet, Therese Clear.
Anyway, unfortunately, I didn’t get out of the poetic blocks until early September because a bout of depression hit me in mid-July and lasted until the end of August.
Then, knowing that the other 31 poets on my list were mainly resident in the USA and experiencing a much worse Covid-19 situation than we were in New Zealand/Aotearoa, I became a POPO machine!
As of Wednesday 23rd September 2020, I had written and posted my last POPO postcard and, as of writing this, Tuesday 6th October 2020, I have received 13 POPO postcards (see picture – please note: somehow I have misplaced Terry from LA’s postcard so there are only 12 postcards pictured).
But as the old saying goes, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Many of the postcards I received from America made some poetic reference to the experience of lockdown.
I decided for the August POPO 2020 that I was going to create my own postcards from photos that I had taken. Aside from a few postcards I discovered in the house (waste not, want not), this was what I did for the bulk of the postcards that I sent out.
I dragooned some used manila folders into use for the backing card and glued the images on to them, cutting them to the permissible dimensions allowed by New Zealand Post. Although handwriting is more personal in this context, I often find that many people have handwriting that is difficult to decipher so I decided to type my poems onto paper and glue them onto the reverse side of the postcard alongside the addresses.
I selected images that popped out at me, so to speak, and I used these images as a springboard to compose a spontaneous poem. I found that this was a good way to create poems that might not otherwise have been created if I had relied on another method of poetic stimulus.
I enjoy the August POPO Festival very much. I love to think of my postcards winging their way across the wide Pacific and, hopefully, providing a little light and joy, especially in a year such as this one has been so far.
I also enjoy getting postcards from the other poets because, in this instantaneous communication world we inhabit in the twenty-first century, the mailbox has become almost obsolete, a sad reminder of a time not so long ago when it was a pleasurable surprise to check one’s mailbox each day.
Now all we tend to find are bills or advertising flyers (despite the “NO JUNK MAIL” signs on the letterbox). So I hope you all found some spiritual uplift during August POPO Festival 2020. I know I did.
Speaking of mailboxes, I’ll leave you with this:
REAL ESTATE AGENT HAIKU
Unwanted flyers in my letterbox,
all cheesy smiles and false bonhomie.
Real estate agents fuck off!!!
Yours in POPO,
Andrew M. Bell