Letter. Box. Stamp. Collect.
by Pascalle Burton
I am not a hiker. However, the satisfaction that comes from the concept of letterboxing is not lost on me. This hobby dates back to 19th Century England, where the orienteering demographic would search for nondescript letterboxes hidden in hill and mossy dale. On discovery, the ritual is to find the stamp inside and ‘collect’ it in a book and in turn, stamp the letterbox owner’s book to say you have been there. A validation of presence? An organised graffiti? The Scottish poet Alec Finlay organised his letterboxing stamps with circular poetry, poems where the beginning and end are uncertain. This led me to devise the Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect. installation for QPF this year.
When you attend the festival, there will be five letterboxes situated around the Judith Wright Centre and each box will have a stamp of a circular poem for you to ‘collect’ on a postcard. The five poets (Jacqueline Turner, Emily XYZ, Jacob Polley, angela rawlings and Shane Rhodes) have all been or are the poet-in-residence for the festival and it was invigorating to discover each unique and resonant voice, even though they were given the same brief. It is another reminder of how lucky we are to have lengthy exposure to the poet-in-residence’s artistic approaches.
This project is interactive, though, and people can respond to the installation in two ways: at the festival or online. We are inviting people to leave a circular poem response in the letterboxes or to send it into the blog, where you can also read interviews with the the Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect. poets. Any medium is welcomed – text, image, audio, links – and contributions will be taken and uploaded until the end of the festival.
Thanks so much to QPF and Sarah Gory for supporting the installation and to Jacqueline, Emily, Jake, angela and Shane. It’s been a very pleasant journey; in fact, to bring it full circle, it’s been a little like a walk in the park!
To find out more about Letter. Box. Stamp. Collect. and how you can contribute visit letterboxingqpf.