150 Years of Postcards

After I wrote my latest Inlandia Literary Journeys column for the Southern California News Group in which I encouraged people to send postcards to those in varying degrees of isolation due to the Covid pandemic, I learned that October 1, 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the first postcard.

The Universal Postal Union organized a celebration of the postcard and created a website along with Postcrossings describing the history of postcards.

Poets should note that next year will be the fifteenth anniversary of the Seattle Poetics LAB‘s August Poetry Postcard Festival. Registration to participate in the exchange of original poems through postcards begins in September of 2020. The project is a fun way to encourage yourself to write a series of new poems.

If you would like to receive a postcard from a random person in the world, consider joining Postcrossings.

I hope you will take the time to send a postcard today.

Veterans Day Column

I often discover inspiring reads in the new books section at The A. K. Smiley Library in Redlands, CA. Adam Sol’s “How a Poem Moves” started me thinking about what to write for my Inlandia Literary Journeys column that was scheduled to appear in print just before Veterans Day.

Published in Canada, Sol’s book may be purchased online or ordered from your local book store. The book may be marketed to readers of poetry, but will inspire many a poet to consider the moves they might make with their own poems. Sol maintains a blog by the same name as the title of his book.

Taken with Lucia Galloway‘s “Ten Miles from Home” while reading her new book “Some Words for Meanwhile,” I was excited when I learned she would be reading at the DA Arts Center in Pomona. At her reading I asked her if I might use her poem for my Veterans Day column. She agreed and kindly added the poem to the poems she read that evening.

Galloway at the DA Arts Center in Pomona

My column, “How a poem captures the dissonance of drone warfare” appeared in four of the Southern California News Group’s papers: The Press Enterprise, The Redlands Daily Facts, The Sun, and The Inland Valley Bulletin.

On Sunday, November 10, 2019, the column ran in the print editions. I enjoy driving around the region to purchase a copy of each of the papers to see how they varying in their presentations.

Photo of Wilfred Owen in public domain

I allude to the British World War I poet Wilfred Owen in my column. For my undergraduate thesis to earn my BA in English, I utilized James Fowler’s faith development theory to analyze the life of Owen and consider how his transitioning stages of faith appeared in his poetry. I was privilege to meet one of the major Owen biographers and scholars, Dominic Hibberd, when he came to Atlantic Union College to visit with Professor Deborah Leonard who had taught with him in China. Ms. Leonard served as advisor to my thesis.

Open to Air

Such a perfect afternoon and location for a reading entitled “Open to Air”! Since it was the day before the fall time change, I had selected a group of ten poems for my first set that centered around time, including “On Seeing the Cost of Time Change,” which playfully mocks Benjamin Franklin for not seeing the effects of his idea. It was great to have Roxy Heinrich in the audience who originally suggested I write a poem about the time change.

My second set focused around memories, most with medical connections, taking into account the majority of the audience with professional medical connections. I was touched by a woman who spoke with me after the reading to say she was an ICU nurse and that my poem “2 a.m. Set” captured that environment.

Members of the Inlandia Ontario Workshop: Victoria Waddle, David Stone, and Linda Rhodes
Former and present colleagues from Loma Linda Academy:
Flynt and Danelle Taylor-Johnston, Melanie Jobe, David Stone, Anne and Kevin Chaffee, and Dr. Andy Sandiford

The final set centered around nature. I was disappointed that Dr. Melissa Brotton was not able to attend and hear a poem about a Siberian Husky named “Huck,” which I wrote for a nature writing class I took from her at La Sierra University.

I also read “We Came to Count the Cypress” which I wrote six years ago today in response to a walk at Fairmont Park in Riverside, CA led by writer Gayle Brandeis and artist Sue Mitchell.

Walking in Fairmont Park in 2013 to admire its 52 Cypress trees
Fun with My Kids

Thank you to Drs. Michael Orlich, Jim Walters, and John Lou from Loma Linda University’s Humanities Program who invited me and organized today’s reading.

Directions for My Poetic Voices: Open to Air Reading at LLU

Take the 10 to Anderson/Tippecanoe. Exit and head South on Anderson St. towards the hospital. You’ll pass on the right a Del Taco and Loma Linda Academy. After you cross Academy Way/Van Leuven St, you’ll head up the hill and cross over the railroad tracks. The picture below shows the view as your coming down the railroad overpass. You want to get in the far right lane.

Turn right onto Stewart Street.

Get into the left lane on Stewart as you head under the pedestrian bridge. Get into the far left lane. Turn left onto Campus at the stop sign.

You will drive up to the corner of Campus and University. The Coleman Pavillion is actually up ahead on the left, but your best bet for parking it off University.

Turn right onto University.

You will make a left just past the parking garage.

The entrance is divided. Be sure to get into the right side. There may be spikes on the left.

Drive straight forward until the parking lot has a T. Your going left into the parking garage. There is no fee to park in this garage.

Find parking inside the garage and exit the garage so you are on the sidewalk facing the construction being done on the church on the other side of Campus St. Use the cross walk to get to the other side of Campus.

You should see a bus stop as you are walking up the hill on Campus St.

You can walk through the parking lot just past the bus stop to reach the Coleman Pavilion.

This is what the building looks like from the front.

Inside the from entrance, want to immediately turn left towards the elevators.

Be careful of the poster advertising the event. These posters were inside the entrance on the Friday before the reading. In the hallway on the opposite side of where you want to get the elevator. Who knows where they will be on the day of the reading. They are mobile as you can see.

Next to the elevator is a directory. You are headed to the Faculty Lounge on Level 2. You will be entering the elevator on Level A. Push the 2.

When the doors of the elevator open on Level Two, you will see the Brian and Maureen Bull School of Medicine Lounge straight ahead.

The doors will likely be open. This sign is to the right of the doors.

This sign is to the left of the doors.

The doors of the lounge were closed for an event when I did my reconnaissance, so I didn’t get to see the actual venue. The event is not ticketed so come early to get the best seating.

Book Letters

I wanted to create something special for my friend Victoria Waddle’s birthday. I imagined her initials made out of open books.

I started playing with a physical copy of Robinson Crusoe to determine the general shapes and the component parts of the end view of an open book.
I cut a piece of paper the size of my linoleum block and sketched out my design. I then taped the design to a block and went over the lines pressing firmly. Since her initials are V and W, I didn’t have to worry about flipping them so they would turn out facing the correct direction when printed. If her initials included letters like D, B, or E, I would have had to invert the image on the block so the letters would print facing the correct direction.
My retracing of the drawing left a faint in impression on the block.
After I removed the paper, I penciled over the impressions to make the design more visible.
I began outline the design with a small V-gouge.
The areas of the block that are uncut become the areas that print. You carve out the negative spaces of the design. In this photo I’m beginning to use a large V-gouge to remove the open spaces surrounding the book forming the letter V. I chose not to texturize the area immediately around the book since I want the view to focus on the V shape of the book.
I carved out the negative space with a design so if it accidentally got inked that it would add to the piece. I also like to think of my block itself as object of art.
Having played with a physical book while creating my design, I chose to place the book-letters in my design inside a bookcase. Without the support of the bookshelf frame, a real book would open flat.
Here’s the block before a test print.

I tested the block using some black ink. The first impression (bottom left) showed some of the lines in the negative space. I carved them lower to remove them from the print (top right). I created a cut-out form (upper right) to help me align the block with the paper. I ended up choosing blue ink for the final print (bottom right).

I matted and framed the print before wrapping it as a gift.