Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Afterpost After the Postsecret Book Appearance

I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the subway home. It felt even longer because I was trying to get home to see Frank Warren, of PostSecret and I was running late. And it felt even longer than that because the F train was super extra crowded. It was full on arrival to the stop with three train loads of transferrers expecting to get on.

Agony. And then it occurred to me that maybe. Maybe. Everyone on the train was going to the Postsecret book signing. Maybe everyone on that train had sent in a postcard and just wanted to lay eyes on the man who started it all. It seemed like mmore people got on the train at each stop and hardly anyone was leaving.

And then my irritation evaporated and I felt a strange affection for all of these strangers crowded up to me with their magazines and computer bags poking me.

At the stop I walked out and watched to see if there was a huge throng of people all rushing to towards Barnes and Noble. There was not. But no matter. I was there.

Frank Warren told us that it all started with a project. He made up a stack of postcards that had his address printed on one side and were blank on the other. He passed them out to people in public places and asked them to mail him a secret that they had never told anyone. After collecting a couple hundred, he put up the postcards he had received and had an art show. It ran for a few weeks but after he took it down, the postcards kept coming. People started sending cards that they had made on their own. They sent them from all over, from across the world.

Frank thought it was a shame that no one would ever see these cards and he started a blog. Every week he posted and still posts 20 cards from the week.

The All-American Rejects did a video that featured postcards from Postsecret. Frank has toured with exhibits of a subset of the postcards. And now there are books.

He read some of his favorite postcards that couldn't be posted for copyright or privacy reasons. He read us some of the emails that he has received and related some of the conversations that he has had because of Postsecret. He told us stories about how this journey has affected him. He told us about volunteering with the suicide hotline: www.hopeline.com 1-800-SUICIDE, and he told us his secret.

He seems like a modest, likeable guy. Like a man who cares. The kind of guy that you would trust with your secret.

He mentioned two projects that inspired him. One I knew about, Found Magazine and one I did not, The Apology Line

Two things paraphrased,

He told us this story of a girl who came to a booksigning wearing a t-shirt that read on the front "20% of people who suffer from anorexia will die from it" and on the back listed the health effects of anorexia. She told him that she had sent him her postcard but he had not posted it. So she made this t-shirt and decided to wear it to school. She was scared to do it but when she got to school, people came up and asked her if they could have one too. They read the shirt and wanted to tell that story.

He said (paraphrasing, probably incorrectly) that courage played a huge role in conveying emotion and message in these postcards. Beyond any artistic ability, it is the courage that carries the art in this project.

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