Postcards to Nowhere

By Monica Obradovic

As a journalist, I’m constantly surrounded by messages: emails, press releases, interview transcriptions, story drafts. Two years ago, I wanted to find a way to curate words of my own.

It started at an antique mall in Cuba, Mo. In the time it took for my mother to walk through the entire mall, I stood transfixed in front of a booth selling vintage postcards in plastic bins. I peeled through nearly all of them, trying to limit myself to 10 cards. They were all so beautiful, but I had no idea what I’d do with them.

I can’t remember why or when, but something clicked inside me after I bought the postcards. I wanted to write on them, but something about staining the postcards with my third-grade-at-best-level handwriting felt like a violation, as if the postcards were beautiful buildings, and I was a vandal with a spray can.

So, with my trusty X-ACTO knife, I cut words for poems from a select few books on my childhood bookshelf that I hadn’t read in years. I’d written poetry before, but this was a different experience. I began by cutting out words that stuck out to me and later forming them into phrases.

Why do this? People buy postcards to remember. I write on them because I want to keep parts of myself I don’t want to forget. 

I started Postcards to Nowhere at a point in my life where I thought I was losing myself. I was 21 years old and in my third year of college. I took classes full-time on top of a part-time internship while working 40 hours a week as editor of my university’s student newspaper. I spent those days taking 10-minute naps in library corners, skipping classes for interviews and hunching tiredly over newsroom desks.

I did all of that out of love. There’s nothing I feel more passionate about than journalism. Yet, poetry was an outlet for whatever frustrations I had, my attempt to save the child inside me as I ventured into adulthood. It continues to be those things.

Now, as a reporter at the Southeast Missourian, the postcards are a way for me to play with words in a way I can’t in journalism.

Journalists don’t often get to indulge their creative sides. We’re taught to be as absent from the scene as possible. The postcards let me tell my own story, to create a narrative that doesn’t have to adhere to another person’s truth.

I post all my postcard poems on my Instagram account, Postcards to Nowhere. Hopefully, if you take a look, you’ll resonate with my truths, too.

An Open Letter to All the People Who’ve Loved Me, By Monica Obradovic (2021). Postcard, book, glue.