PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives

by Frank Warren
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Overview

“A fascinating public airing of private thoughts—some dark, others funny, endearing or disturbing—written on homemade postcards. . . . The range of efforts (meticulous, sloppy, artful, ponderous) will astound you.” —TIME.com

A fascinating, addictively compelling look at people’s deepest secrets, told through anonymously submitted postcards.

Frank Warren is the founder and curator of the PostSecret project. For the project, which was started in October 2004, Warren asked people to write a secret they had never told anyone on a handmade postcard and mail it to him. He then displayed selected cards—the authors are anonymous—on his website, www.postsecret.com. The response was overwhelming, and the cards are astonishing in their honesty and creativity. Each card bears an intimate, powerful, or even chilling sentiment, told through handmade illustrations, photographs, collages, and other creative means. Among the thousands of amazing cards Warren received are the following messages: 

• “Sometimes when I’m having sex with my wife I’m thinking of my mom...”

• “He’s been in prison for two years because of what I did. Nine more to go...”

• “I waste office supplies because I hate my boss.”

• “I am a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife. No one knows that I do not believe in God.”

• “I have to shave my toes... (I am a woman...)”

For the book Warren has personally selected about 300 postcards that powerfully reflect the unique essence of this remarkable project.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060899196
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/29/2005
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 152,712
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 10.25(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

Frank Warren started PostSecret as a community art project where he invited total strangers to anonymously mail in their secrets on a homemade postcard. This simple act sparked a global phenomenon. Frank has received over 1 million secrets in his mailbox with more arriving every day but Sunday. PostSecret.com has won seven Webby Awards and is the most visited advertisement-free blog in the world. The postcards have been curated for five New York Times bestselling books and have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the American Visionary Art Museum. Frank has traveled the world sharing secrets and stories from Australia to the White house. There is a PostSecret album, a PostSecret TED Talk and a PostSecret Play on tour. In 2011 Frank was awarded the ‘HopeLine Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his work on suicide prevention and was invited to the White House to work on issues of mental wellness. Frank lives in Germantown, Maryland, with his wife and daughter.

Read an Excerpt

PostSecret

Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
By Frank Warren

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Frank Warren
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060899190

Introduction

In November 2004, I printed 3,000 postcards inviting people to share a secret with me: something that was true, something they had never told anyone. I handed out these cards at subway stations, I left them in art galleries, and I slipped them between the pages of library books. Then, slowly, secrets began to find their way to my mailbox.

After several weeks I stopped passing out postcards but secrets kept coming. Homemade postcards made from cardboard, old photographs, wedding invitations, and other personal items artfully decorated arrived from all over the world. Some of the secrets were written in Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, and even Braille.

One of the first PostSecrets I received looked like nothing more than a worn postcard filled with two shopping lists. But squeezed into the corner was a soulful admission, "I am still struggling with what I've become."

Like fingerprints, no two secrets are identical, but every secret has a story behind it. From the clues on this card, I imagined that this person had an internal struggle about sharing the secret. It was so difficult that they tried to use up the postcard as a shopping list, twice. But the urge to reconcile with a painful personal truth was so strong that they were ultimately able to find the courage to share it.

Secrets have stories; they can also offer truths. After seeing thousands of secrets, I understand that sometimes when we believe we are keeping a secret, that secret is actually keeping us. A New Zealander recently wrote the following about what they had learned from the PostSecret project, "The things that make us feel so abnormal are actually the things that make us all the same."

I invite you to contemplate each of the shared secrets in these pages: to imagine the stories behind the personal revelations and to search for the meaning they hold. As you read these postcards you may not only be surprised by what you learn about others, but also reminded of your own secrets that have been hiding. That is what happened to me.

After reading one particular PostSecret, I was reminded of a childhood humiliation -- something that happened to me more than thirty years ago. I never thought of it as a secret, yet I had never told anyone about it. From a memory that felt fresh, I chose my words carefully and expressed my secret on a postcard. I shared it with my wife and daughter. The next day, I went to the post office, and physically let it go into a mailbox. I walked away feeling lighter.

I like to think that this project germinated from that secret I kept buried for most of my life. At a level below my awareness, I needed to share it, but I was not brave enough to do it alone. So I found myself inviting others at galleries and libraries to first share their secrets with me. And when their postcards found me, I was able to find the courage to identify my secret and share it too.

We all have secrets: fears, regrets, hopes, beliefs, fantasies, betrayals, humiliations. We may not always recognize them but they are part of us -- like the dreams we can't always recall in the morning light.

Some of the most beautiful postcards in this collection came from very painful feelings and memories. I believe that each one of us has the ability to discover, share, and grow our own dark secrets into something meaningful and beautiful.

-- Frank


Continues...

Excerpted from PostSecret by Frank Warren Copyright © 2005 by Frank Warren. Excerpted by permission.
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