A little while ago I was introduced to Poems by Post by founder Alex and when I realised what a brilliant concept Poems by Post was I simply had to invite him on to Linda’s Book Bag to tell me more. I’m thrilled that Alex agreed to be interviewed. Let’s see what he told me:
Poems by Post
An Interview with Alex
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Alex. Please could you introduce yourself?
Hey Linda – thanks for having me! My name’s Alex, and I am a poet! Before the pandemic I used to sit on the streets with a typewriter and sign that read ‘Choose Your Subject, Pick Your Price, Get A Poem!’. I was fortunate enough to be able to make a modest living doing this, and it opened the door to a whole host of opportunities. I’ve been hired for events, made several radio appearances, and I’ve even had a poem commissioned for a museum!
That’s brilliant. I love the thought of wandering along and discovering a poet in the street!
And tell me about Poems by Post.
Poems by Post was born out of necessity. When the UK was put into its first national lockdown, I couldn’t continue making my living on the streets, despite my passion for poetry. I also saw many other artists – of all mediums – struggling with the uncertainty that this pandemic brought, and experienced first-hand the devastating effect that this virus had on the arts overall. Truth be told, working as an artist is uncertain even in the best of times, yet Covid accelerated the need for Poems by Post.
I imagine it did. That must have been a very unsettling time for you. What’s been happening since?
Since launching in August 2020, we have supported more than 60 different artists, and sent poetry to hundreds of people around the world – across 15 countries! We’re still growing, and there’s a lot more that we aim to achieve, however, I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve done so far. Poems by Post truly is offering hope!
Having been a recipient of Poems by Post I can say what an uplifting experience it is to receive them through the post. So, how do blog readers subscribe to Poems by Post?
You can head on over to www.poemsbypost.org, and learn a little more about us. We have two Editions – The Typewriter & The Printed, and both are available in monthly, quarterly, and biannual subscription cycles. You can also gift the subscription if you think it will brighten up someone’s day.
I know it would brighten someone’s day! I’ve been lucky enough to receive a couple of your recent mailings (see my comments below). They came with fabulous cards too. What do subscribers receive in the Poems by Post subscription?
Every month we commission a brand new poem from a different poet, hand-type it upon Erika (the typewriter!), and post it out to our subscribers. We also commission a different artist each month to design a bespoke envelope, and an A6 card in theme with the poem. If you’re subscribed to our Typewriter Edition, we also include a pre-paid envelope for the A6 card, so that you can express your own creativity and send a little inspiration on to a friend!
That’s such a wonderful thing to do. The world needs more creativity.
We hope that not only do our subscribers take great pride in knowing that they are making a huge difference to so many artists, but that they also feel inspired to connect with their own creativity.
I’m sure they will be. So, who are your poets?
We work almost exclusively with grassroots poets. Poets who aspire to create waves of change with their words, and poets who wish to make a living from their skill. We champion voices of all backgrounds, and we welcome people sparking a conversation with us. It’s beautiful how a simple ‘hello’ can lead down such wonderous avenues!
We ask only two things of our poets when commissioning a new poem: no swearing, and offer hope!
I don’t think that’s too bad an aim!
I understand that the poems you send out are hand typed on a traditional typewriter called Erika. Tell me more…?
That’s right! Erika is German, coming up to 60 years old, but very reliable – every single one of the Typewriter Edition poems are hand-typed on Erika!
Alex and Erika
The revenue from subscriptions supports grass roots artists. What sort of arts are you interested in supporting?
One thing that really stands out to me is the fact that all of us used to draw, write, paint – be creative! – as children, and yet there comes a point where we draw our last drawing or pen our last poem, and we don’t even realise it!
With this in mind, we aim to champion all creative outlets. Poets, performers, painters, printmakers – you name it! For us, the process of creating is more important than the finished piece. It’s the journey of exploring creativity which greatly benefits our mental wellbeing.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s years since I wrote poetry. Maybe I should get going again…
What plans do you have for future Poems by Post mailings?
We have big dreams for this platform! Initially, as we grow we will be able to crate more paid opportunities for more artists of all mediums every month, and we will become a real springboard for wonderful grassroots talent. Aside from that… we just want to send beautiful envelopes of artwork to mas many people as possible, and hope it makes them smile!
It has been a real privilege to hear more about your work Alex. Thanks so much for telling us about Poems by Post. I think it’s a fabulous concept and I wish you every success.
My Poems by Post Mailings
What could be lovelier than finding a surprise real envelope through your letterbox with a special stamp on the reverse of that envelope indicating there is a poem and artwork just waiting to be discovered inside?
In my July mailing I found a poem hand typed onto high quality textured paper; A home to call your own by Matt Alton and a sumptuous card illustrated by Fay Troote that contained the suggestion that I might like to ‘pen a poem, draw a picture or write a message to a loved one’ and send it to them using the stamped envelope included. I thought this was just wonderful – not least after all those months of being apart from those we love. I’d been so cheered by receiving the poem and card that I’m sure others would be too.
In August’s envelope similar items were included but what I loved this time was that the message in the card designed by Morgan McHale-Dill to complement the poetry was different – equally thought provoking and inspiring – but not simply a repetition of the message in July. This gives such impact because it feels as if the message has been crafted with thought and care. The poem this time was Humane by Rohan Samuel and again had been hand typed onto high quality paper.
Whilst this blog post is about Poems by Post and the service they provide, I must say something about the poetry I’ve received as, without this service, I’d not have encountered the poets, or, indeed, the artists. I love the poems I’ve been sent. They are thought provoking, sensitive and uplifting, making me consider my own existence and place in society. I’ve enjoyed reading the poems several times and then going on to find out more about the poets and artists so that the gift of Poems by Post extends beyond the actual mailing that drops through the letterbox but gives an interest to research further.
I think Poems by Post is a fantastic concept and would make a wonderful gift for those you love, but can’t see regularly, to show them you are thinking of them.