Best Use of the Postcard

Best: Frank Warren
2nd Best: Buck Downs
Frank Warren became an Internet phenom by publicizing the darkest elements of anonymous psyches. Since 2005, thousands of contributors have scrawled their deepest secrets on postcards, addressed them to Warren’s home in Germantown, Md., and let him share them with the world on “PostSecret.” Local poet Buck Downs’ own postcard project is, in some ways, the anti-PostSecret. Downs’ postcards—which he prints with snatches of his experimental poetry and sends out once a month—haven’t made him famous. Maybe that’s because his cards refuse to provide a living narrative of the human condition, like Warren’s collection of unrequited loves and sad family histories. No, these cards are not nearly as boring as that. Downs’ psyche is concerned with the same stuff—sex, money, death—but his poetry shuns Warren’s therapeutic exercise, instead twisting those themes to emphasize the limits of human understanding. Sure, sometimes Downs’ postcards don’t make any sense. But at least you can slap them on your refrigerator. And if you’re still hurting for PostSecret’s collaborative approach, you can always do your part by spotting Downs the $27 cost of a coil of postcard stamps.