In the age of cloud computing and lightning-fast communication, Abe’s Penny offers the humble postcard. Every week, the Brooklyn-based publishing house sends its subscribers one with a photograph on one side and a snippet of text on the other. (A different photographer and writer collaborate each month.) Off-set printed on double-thick matte cardstock, four postcards make up an edition of the Abe’s Penny micro-magazine, which sisters Tess and Anna Knoebel launched in 2009.
While contemporary culture is lousy with hollow retroism (think Hipstamatic), this is no gimmick. By boiling down the magazine to its essentials, Abe’s Penny’s invites subscribers to contemplate the content of the postcard – a single image, a single piece of text – on a deeper level than they might a traditional, bloated mag. In the process, they often come to cherish the object itself.
“It’s nice in the middle of the week when they receive this tiny little bit of art and literature that can — I don’t know if it brightens up their day, but it definitely adds something to the experience of the day,” says Anna Knoebel, who I spoke to by phone on Tuesday.
“It’s not like sitting with an in-depth article in the New Yorker,” she says. “You know, it doesn’t necessarily resonate in the same way. You’re given the space to take it in as little or as much as you want to.”
Abe’s Penny is taking part in next month’s O, Miami poetry festival with an exhibition at ArtSeen gallery in Wynwood. “Abe’s Penny Live” invites all Miami poets to write original verse in response to the work of four Miami-based photographers, including our own Robby Campbell(!). At the end of the show, the Knoebels will select their favorite submission and publish it along with the photographs as an edition of Abe’s Penny.
The show opens on April 2 with readings by FIU professor Denise Duhamel and Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist Gaby Calvocoressi. During Art Walk, on April 9, it will feature readings by Craig Saper, Maggie Hasspacher, Eliza Bishop, and Parker Phillips.
In advance of their trip to Miami — the postcard city itself — the Knoebels are generously offering to mail a free edition of Abe’s Penny (four postcards) to the first five people to @mention both Beached Miami and Abe’s Penny on Facebook. Starting . . . now! [Update: Contest closed. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shout us out on FB!].
A six-month subscription goes for $48 on abespenny.com. Make sure to check out the archives to see what your mailbox has been missing.