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Poetry by Post! And a Site Update...

Assignments Blog Business Calligraphy Letterpress Literature Mailings Poetry

poetrybypostweb I am downright giddy to announce that Poetry by Post, my MFA thesis project, is at long last open to subscribers!  Preparations for this project have been in the works for many months now, and I'm pleased as punch to finally be able to say more about it.  If you'd like to cut to the chase, click on the drawing above (or the Poetry by Post link in the navigation bar), and that will take you to all the pertinent details. For those who like a little -- umm, a lot -- more backstory:  if you've taken even a brief look around here, you might have discovered that I have a thing for poetry.  And that I went to grad school in English literature at Iowa before hopping over to the Center for the Book for the Book Arts program I'm currently in.  For years, I struggled to see a connection between the worlds of literary scholarship and book arts, at least as I inhabited them.  Certainly Book Studies as an academic field offers a clearer link, but my focus was more in the realms of reader response theory, speech-act theory, and good ol' formalism and genre theory.  At a couple turns, I made large calligraphic panels that used as their foundation the poems that I wrote about in my dissertation, and while a wonderful project in its way, I still felt like the dissertation made sense in one world, the artworks in another, and that was that.  But I came to realize that even if it felt unclear to me how to smush the two worlds together Venn-diagram-style so that there was some overlapping space I could leap into and call home, I also wouldn't be happy choosing one path as a career and hoping to keep one afloat as a hobby.  So the MFA it was, with some trepidation. And not, it turns out, without reason.  When it came time to plan toward my thesis -- which was about a year ago -- my mind was blank.  I had no idea what I wanted to work on.  Truly nothing.  I felt paralyzed and panicked.  I wondered what in the blazes I was doing in an MFA program, surrounded by so many amazing artists who have extraordinary ideas simply spilling out of them.  I second-guessed my "career" choices, knew that with the academic job market as it is and with my complete lack of activity on that front for two years, my chances in that arena would be slim to none.  I felt ridiculous for being in grad school for ten years and counting and spent a lot of late nights worried about what happens next.  Nothing came to me for months, and yet I was still aiming for the same graduation date, so the choice was becoming rather urgent.  During one stretch of insomnia in January of this year close to the beginning of the Spring semester, I was thinking about the things I want to do someday and how it would be so much fun to have a poetry subscription service, where I could send a poem every month, letterpress-printed as a lovely postcard... or maybe there could be a postcard version that comes every month and then a more deluxe version that gets sent out quarterly, and they would be broadsides, and I could write a little something about the poems I send out, and then I could calligraph the addresses... and... HEAVENS TO BETSY.  There it was:  my thesis project.  Every detail.  Each of the many things I am interested in -- poetry, literary analysis, visual and verbal expression, teaching, a general audience, letterpress printing, calligraphy, and physical mail -- all smushed together in a neat little package.  Turns out it had been in that brain of mine after all, just in hiding.  I'm hard-pressed to explain why it took me such a long time to access it; probably it had a little something to do with belief in myself and this strange vision of what I hope to spend my days doing. Anyone still with me?  Bueller? Anyway, this site has changed a fair bit over the past month to accommodate all of this:  there is now a Poetry by Post page that offers details about the project as well as a Shop where subscriptions can be purchased.  And in the process, I tried to add to and organize my Portfolio a bit, but truth be told, that whole set-up needs a lot of work, and I have a thing or two I need to get to.  Kind of urgently! And if you are still with me, thank you -- seriously, thank you! -- for reading this mini-memoir.  I skipped some big things -- a revelatory trip to London,  an online class on entrepreneurship with nearly 100 18-year-olds and me, and a story about paralysis and how one of my broadsides came to be.  But as this is a blog, I should probably save some more mini-memoirs for later and call it a day.  Cheers!  

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  • cheryl jacobsen on

    This is wonderful and so lovely!!!

  • Lauren on

    Laura, this was so much fun to read about—what a great thesis project. I can’t wait to see what you do with these! Please post lots of in-progress photos and words!

  • Laura Low on

    You are so talented Laura! Can’t wait to see what you create!

  • Dale Larsen on

    What a beautiful website. I went and washed my hands before I continued reading! I love you!!!

  • Laura on

    Thank you, Cheryl!

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