The Postcard Project

Silk Road Review Postcard ProjectThis year, as the special projects team gathered around our big conference table, it became clear that we all wanted to do something fun, inspiring, and new. We wanted to give back, to find a way to involve more writers with our magazine, to create a community of encouragement for our fellow writers, and do something nice all around. With those goals in mind we stared into our supply closet and the bulging boxes of postcards hoping for inspiration. It showed up like a flash and the postcard project was born. We officially launched it at Portland’s Wordstock Festival in October to great success.

Here’s how it works: Attendees chose a postcard, and on the left side they wrote an anonymous love note to a fellow writer. The festival-goers filled that side of the postcard with words of encouragement, praise for work they had never read but hoped to in the near future, and offered poems and insights to keep each other going. Sometimes they wrote the things they most needed to hear themselves. We don’t have a lot of rules for the project, only that you have to address the note to “my favorite author” and you have to sign it from “your biggest fan.”

Participants placed their mailing address on a sticky note on the right side and dropped them into the Silk Road caravan trunk. Wordstock buzzed with enthusiasm over our project. Afterward, we gathered around the table and dumped out the notes, swapped the addresses and mailed them out knowing the right words would reach the person who needed to hear them most. We were excited, and a little teary as we read some of the amazing things writers had to say to each other, and within a few weeks we started getting feedback:

Dear Silk Road,
I just wanted to let the Silk Road staff know that I recently received one of the postcards from your Postcard Project, and it really made my day. I’d been having a tough week, and the inspiring message written by “My Biggest Fan” helped pull me through. Thank you for running this project, I hope I can contribute again in the future!
A Silk Road Fan

And this one.

Dear Silk Road,
Today, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an inspiring postcard in the mail that told me to “drive through the writer’s block and keep my chin up.” I must admit I have been struggling the last couple of weeks with my writing and this little message from a fellow author warmed my heart beyond words.
Thank you so much for doing the Post Card Project! I can’t wait to take part in it at AWP.
With love,
A Portland Writer

You can imagine how thrilled we were! From boxes of beautiful blank postcards to helping our fellow writers through the slump, we’re realizing the goals we set for ourselves in the beginning of the year. It’s been a wonderful community building experience and because we had so much fun, we hosted another event on campus for fellow students to encourage each other through their upcoming finals. Our response was overwhelming.

The Portland Writer is correct, we will be at AWP in Seattle this February, and you can count on seeing the Postcard Project there. Please stop by, drop a note in the trunk, and say hi. We’d love to meet you and send your postcard from the Silk Road.

Silk Road Poets, Live in Your Living Room

In previous eras, if you wanted to hear live poetry in your home, you had to get to know local poets. They would invariably drink too much, or more embarrassingly not at all, and the servants would count the silverware when they left. Welcome to the twenty-first century, where rather than duels and drawing rooms, Google settles our arguments and finishes our sentences. The search giant has also made something else possible: live poetry readings that anyone in the world with a computer can attend.

10coverhomepageTwo such live readings will feature poets from the British poetry special feature in Silk Road Review Issue 10. The poets hail from all across the United Kingdom, and will meet up virtually using Google+ Hangouts on Air. Anyone with an internet connection who can watch YouTube video will be able to tune in to hear poets with a wide range of British accents and dialects reading their own poems. You no longer have to be in the UK to attend great British poetry readings.

Academy of American Poets Chancellor Jane Hirshfield says, “This entirely innovative series builds community among UK and American poets, who do want to know more of each others’ work. Plus it’s good for the planet: no airplanes.” Treat yourself to a virtual journey to the British Isles to hear some of the most exciting poets writing in the UK today. Mark your calendars now:

Sunday, October 13th at 8PM BST / 3PM EDT / noon PDT
Featuring Isabel Galleymore, Chris McCabe, Andrew Philip, and Paul Stephenson

Saturday, October 19th at 8PM BST / 3PM EDT / noon PDT
Featuring Fiona Benson, Mark Burnhope, Abi Curtis, Helen Ivory, Ira Lightman, Rob A. Mackenzie, and Esther Morgan

Here is where the poets come from.