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Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs

Source: the poet
Paperback, 72 pgs.
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***full disclosure: Jeanne and I have been poetry blog buddies for a long time.***

Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs is a travel story in verse, a journey of self-discovery, reflection, and enjoyment. It was no surprise to me that her collection begins with a quote from “Ulysses.”

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move."

This is the perfect quote for this collection. It is a movement to places, while at the same time a separation from those places and experiences into a moment of now, which is fleeting and yet becomes part of not only the reader but the poet herself. I loved that each page resembles a postcard back with a name and location, and the poem on the opposite side, providing the reader with a person that the poem is speaking to (not just the reader). This dialogue makes each poem unique. I would loved to have seen the actual images of each postcard, though Griggs does provide enough description in her poems to put you there, holding that card as she writes her short missives.

From "Postcard with a piece of the Berlin Wall" (pg. 7)

...I received
a broken-off piece from
the Berlin wall, the world was
Safe, we could retire
in the countryside.
Now our kids have moved
away but we're still here
where our neighbors just
voted to build a border wall.

Griggs is candid and uses her wry humor to highlight the ironies of our world. An America a little less concerned with freedom and more consumed by fears. While some of her poems speak about the wider world, they are often grounded in the locality where she is. These poems also examine what it means to grow into adulthood and to age beyond where we believe ourselves to be mentally. From “postcard of Niagara Falls,” “I missed you,/….wishing I could watch you/see this, wondering if I left/you alone too much, pursuing/your own course around/me,…/” (pg. 34)

There are so many good poems in this collection it is hard to pick a favorite, but for fellow bibliophiles, “postcard from Cape Cod” (pg. 38) will speak to you:

we could live like in the books,
without any of the fuss
of having to sustain anything
except ourselves, making meals
of little dishes on trays,
the wine we brought poured
into an endless line of glasses.

Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs is a delight to read. These are poems I will read again at the beach or on a vacation (should I ever take one again). There is so much light in these poems. It made my spirit lighter as I read them. We all need that these days.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Jeanne Griggs is a reader, writer, traveler, and ailurophile. She directs the writing center at Kenyon College, plays violin in the Knox County Symphony, and reviews books at Necromancy Never Pays.

Mailbox Monday #640

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

This is what we received:

Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs for review.

In days before selfies and social media, postcards were a ubiquitous feature of travel, providing both means of communication with friends and family while away, and souvenirs of journeys once back home.

Even if not quite gone, they seem more than a little nostalgic now, as do many of the poems in Jeanne Griggs’ new collection, Postcard Poems. By choosing to present her poems as short notes that could fit on a postcard, she has opted for a formal brevity; and the conceit of holiday communication allows her to write both about place (so that her poems are often both ekphrastic and epistolary – a neat trick) and about the people in her life.

Travel, of course, is always a journey through both exterior and interior spaces, physical and mental, and we witness both in these often wistful poems. A visit on Cape Cod with friends, “women of a certain age”, affords an opportunity to “live like in the books, / without any of the fuss / of having to sustain anything / except ourselves.” Children grow up over the span of these travels, despite her wishing she “had caged” them, holding onto the past. A third visit to Niagara Falls is the first without her son – “the first time / you were too young to remember / and the second too old to want / to come along” – who is now far off in Siberia on travels of his own. Iowa is a place equally exotic, known only “from watching a baseball movie / … until we left our daughter / there”, and they drive long out of the way to visit the Field of Dreams site, “And it was there, / just like we’d seen it, / in real life.” Stopping “South of the Border” she buys “picture postcards of this place on the way / to where we’re actually going.” That’s a good description of the mosaic of life that is constructed out of these brief notes, a chronical of stops along the way until, in the final poem, “all future plans suspended… / we are / still saving up from our last trip.”

Escape Velocity by Kristin Kowalski Ferragut, a gift from a dear friend and fellow poet.

A courageous testament, lush with startling imagery, Kristin Kowalski Ferragut’s Escape Velocity focuses on the personal in order to illuminate the universal. “Truth leaves words in shambles,” Ferragut cautions us. Nevertheless, “All the days in this long life / fill with such wonder of / words . . .” With each poem standing on its own as a singular story, taken as a whole, this premier collection takes the reader on an Odyssey, unsettling at times, tender at others, through memory and loss, forward with strength and resilience to confront “This love of what grows wild flowers . . . erratic, uncertain, hard to stare down.” The laws of physics cannot constrain this poet’s quest; the reader will be rewarded for accompanying her on the journey. —W. Luther Jett, Author of Everyone Disappears, Our Situation, and Not Quite

“I challenge you to / Unzip your skin and see / if you make it to the West Coast. / Exactly.” In Escape Velocity , Kristin Kowalski Ferragut invites us to experience the moments that make a life with finely honed wording and well-crafted stanzas that awaken every sense, often in unexpected ways. With deep compassion, she delves into relationships with family, loves and loves lost, the joys and sorrows that come with the bits and pieces that make a life and give us our sense of where we are in the world, sprinkled with delectable moments of wry humor. This exquisite debut poetry collection takes us beyond our usual understanding of self and place in a “rare conversation that matters.” —Lucinda Marshall, Founder and Host of DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Author of Inheritance Of Aging Self

Kristin Kowalski Ferragut sends us “Whirling / in our individual little confoundations,” as she reconciles the collective discord we face. She shoulders such universal themes as grief, love, and grace in a uniquely flawless dance. In “Unbearable Lightness” she muses, “We anchor ourselves in burdens, lost causes . . . to keep from floating away.” In lines like this, Ferragut startles us from our safe repose to experience the jeopardy and promise of motion; to believe in second chances and in our ability to “put the blood back / in the stone.” —Alison Palmer, Author of The Need for Hiding

What did you receive?

National Poetry Month: Postcards from the Pandemic

Most everyone knows what a postcard is — a 4×6 inch piece of card stock with an image on the front and a place to write a note on the back that can be mailed with postage and an address sans envelope. I’m sure this has been done before, but with many of us sheltering place this year, I doubt we’ll be heading to poetry readings and other literary events with large groups of people. But I have noticed that letter writing and connecting with others far away has come back into fashion — at least for some.

I found this fascinating listing for Postcard Poems and Prose (feel free to submit one), and I thought it would be a fun activity to try with everyone. Let’s all share 1-4 lines of prose or poetry in a postcard format in the comments.

Of course, I’ll start us off — so glad you asked. 😉

Wish you were here
beside me on the couch
but six feet of distance
puts me on edge.

Now, it’s your turn — share something funny, something inspiring, whatever you like.