Postcard poem, ekphrastic delusion: On Margaret Atwood's poem "postcard"

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In her poem "Postcard," Margaret Atwood chooses postcards and tourism as an entry point to examine relationships, the loss of a loved one, and the fading of memory. The poem exploits the unique format of the postcard and sophisticatedly uses the delusion typical of the ekphrastic tradition, which constructs an object that lacks ontological reality but is impressively present in the imagination of the reader. The poem, we find, grew because of the impossibility of restoring the face of the beloved figure; it is a poem about failure, about the limitations of the verbal medium when confronting the collapse of visual memory. Is the mechanism of personal relationships equivalent to the industry of tourism? In what way does the mental picturesque reproductions of the beloved we store in our memory resemble commercial postcards?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-38
Number of pages11
JournalUniversity of Toronto Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Atwood
  • Ekphrasis
  • Loss
  • Postcard
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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