Poetry Coalition Postcard Project
In March 2019, Kundiman worked once again with the Poetry Coalition, which is a national alliance of more than 25 organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture. This year’s project focused on the theme “What Is It, Then, Between Us?"—– a line from Walt Whitman's famous poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” More specifically, the theme called for examinations of the relationship between poetry and democracy. Our efforts focused on how poetry provokes questions in the multitudinous Asian American communities about issues that have pressed us throughout American history to the present-day.
Our project consisted of a political action calendar and a postcard project. As part of the action calendar, we explored Asian American immigration, activism, documentation, and solidarity with curated poetry folios, writing prompts, and direct action suggestions. For our postcard project, our fellows wrote and sent postcards investigating poetry, democracy, and other themes throughout the month. As the postcards physically traveled around the country, they simultaneously reached a wider digital audience. We shared pictures of the postcards on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the hashtags #PoetryCoalition and #PoetryandDemocracy. We’ve collected them all here for ease of viewing. Thank you to all those who participated, either by writing postcards, sharing them, or simply reading them!
2019 Postcard Gallery
Testimonials on the 2019 Poetry Postcards
“So many components of this project were meaningful and necessary to me -- crafting short pieces to send to other writers in our community, eagerly looking for postcards in the mail each week, and feeling that my sentiments and words would reach someone directly rather than sit on a page awaiting their fate. There is also something nostalgically tactile about writing by hand, holding art in my palms, and connecting in this way with people I don't yet know.”
“In my contribution to the Action Calendar, I proposed thinking of “Asian American” as a poetic act—a recent idea that has brought forth new cultural and political possibilities. It was a joy to look through the archives and find some of the first Asian American poems, then to see them posted alongside more recent poems that continue and wrestle with that lineage. I was gratified at the response: the retweets, the messages, the questions. These conversations are already happening, and I hope the post did a small part to bridge the world of poetry with the activism and community work all around us.”
––Ryan Lee Wong
“Being able to combine the act of writing postcards guided by prompts on the action calendar generated each week by Janine, Dulani, Alison, and Ryan during the month of March felt like a remarkable gift. The folios put into context and open up important dialogues for readers and writers and I will keep returning to the poetry collections, prompts, and action lists, and will also share them with other readers and writers ongoing.”
Poetry & Democracy Postcard Party
As part of our month-long project, Henry Wei Leung led a generative writing workshop on themes of poetry and democracy. Henry provided a framework through which to consider these themes, and then guided our guests with prompts specifically exploring the four themes of our action calendar: Asian American immigration, documentation, activism, and solidarity.