Calendar of poets and days:

Greeting card poems!

Poet Elaine Equi and her friend poet David Trinidad, with my wife Lyn at
Poet Elaine Equi and her friend poet David Trinidad, with my wife Lyn at left, in New York City, back in 1992.

A few years back New York poet and friend Elaine Equi suggested she compile a collection of poems like Holiday Cards, by various hands. I once almost applied for a job writing verse for Hallmark Cards in Sydney, back in the 1960s, so I said yes, please do!

Dozens of poets wrote in to Elaine with their poems, and many were supplied  with Collages by Kevin Riordan. They’re all in Jacket 32, here, a feast of quirky, light-hearted calendar verse. Take a look!

Above is a photo of Elaine and her friend poet David Trinidad, with my wife Lyn at left, in New York City, back in 1992. Cigarettes… ah, they were the days. Tell me it wasn’t twenty years ago! Photo by John Tranter.

Here’s Elaine’s Introduction:

Like many people, my first exposure to poetry was through the medium of greeting cards. Before I knew Lorca, Desnos, Stein, or Celan, I knew Hallmark. It was the habit of my mother and grandmother to save whatever cards had been sent throughout the year in order to know who should receive a reciprocal one, but to me poring over those ornate decks was a stimulating and rewarding pastime in and of itself. From them I deduced that brevity with words, sometimes arranged in shapes called stanzas, was often rewarded with a unique and lavish visual setting that included bouquets, cakes, hearts, and gilded lettering among other things. Being very young, I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what the relationship between word and image was in a poem, but I sensed it was important. Thus poetry was originally for me a kind of picture-writing  — and greeting cards, the hieroglyphic flashcards that taught me to read it.

Another idea I formed back then was that part of the very nature of poetry was to greet — i.e. to show up unannounced on someone’s doorstep in order to profess love, congratulate, and wish well. It was a portable, sociable type of writing. Later, of course, I became familiar with more serious poems, the kind that internalized their pictures and suppressed their desire to call out. But I’ve always retained something of these early ideas and thought it would be fun to create a context that allowed for both a literary and a more exuberant greeting-card aesthetic to co-exist.

Our calendar here has been entirely dictated by highly esteemed poets. Its holidays are a mix of tradition and invention — the sacred, the secular, the romantic, the ridiculous, and even thank goodness, the mildly profane. From John Ashbery to Columbo Day, to Holi: the Festival of Colors, Elvis Week and more, I hope you will refer to The Holiday Album often and that it keeps you in a meditative, celebratory, and poetic mood throughout the coming year!  [— Elaine Equi, New York City]


And here are the poets and their poems:
[»] Elaine Equi: Best Wishes (Introduction)
[»] Elaine Equi: Happy New Year
[»] David Lehman: Time Frame
[»] Wayne Koestenbaum: Short Subjects
[»] Rae Armantrout: Address
[»] Nick Piombino: Valentine’s Day
 — Valentine’s Day — Feb. 14th
[»] Kim Lyons: Red Couplets
 — Paper Lantern Festival (Chinese) — the 15th day of the first lunar month
[»] David Shapiro: Colorful Hands
 — Holi: The Festival of Colors (Indian) — first weekend in March
[»] Tom Clark: Equinox
 — March 21/22
[»] Vincent Katz: Back From The Dead
 — The Veneralia (Roman) — April 1st
[»] Eileen Tabios: Eggs: Pulp Fiction for Easter
[»] Jeanne Marie Beaumont: Fête of the Little Boats
 — (French) — April 6th
[»] Martine Bellen: On John Ashbery Day — A Cento
 — April 7th
[»] Cathy McArthur: At the Wildlife Center
 — Bird Day — May 4th
[»] Jerome Sala: Mother’s Day
[»] Jeanne Marie Beaumont: Flower & Camera
 — Flower & Camera Day — June 29th
[»] Patricia Spears Jones: The Perfect Lipstick
 — July 4th
[»] Chris Martin: Independence Day
[»] Mark Lamoureux: Bride of Frankenstein’s Birthday
 — July 9th
[»] Stacy Szymaszek: Hammock Day 
 — July 22nd
[»] Erica Kaufman: admit you’re happy day
 — Aug. 8th
[»] Erica Kaufman: elvis week
 — Aug. 8-16th
[»] Fanny Howe: Our Lady of Knock, August 21, 1879
[»] Joanna Fuhrman: At the Evil Boss Convention  — Labor Day
[»] Jerome Sala: Anniversary
[»] Gregory Crosby: Columbo Day
 — Oct. 12th
[»] Connie Deanovich: Happy Hamlet Day
 — Oct 15th
[»] Bruce Covey: Definitions
 — Dictionary Day–Oct. 16th
[»] Amy Gerstler: All Saints’ Day
 — Nov. 1st
[»] Joe Brainard: Thanksgiving
[»] David Trinidad: Doll Memorial Service
 — Doll Memorial Day — second Saturday in December
[»] David Shapiro: After Ryokan 
 — Winter Solstice — Dec. 21st
[»] Ron Padgett: Season’s Greetings
[»] Ryan Stechler: Pirate’s Christmas Carol: Dec. 25th