lettering Oregon

August 6, 2018

While people around the world are busy writing their August Poetry Postcards, people in Oregon are writing letters. Dear Stranger is a wonderful collaborative project of Oregon Humanities in which Oregonians are invited to write a letter “about the place where you live or a community where you feel at home.” Letters are submitted to Oregon Humanities, where they will be paired and mailed to another letter writer.

Dear Stranger extends the conversation that has been started in the Bridging Oregon project.

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epistolary Keats

December 7, 2017

If you are interested in the epistolary musings of the short-lived Romantic poet John Keats, you will be happy to learn of the Keats Letters Project. There are 34 letters currently posted, with plans for more to come. The Project “publishes each of the letters on the 200th anniversary of the day Keats penned it, and each letter is accompanied by a critical commentary, a short dissertation, aiming to shed new light on the letters, reconceiving received ideas and offering reevaluations.” Visit the Keats Letters Project and read more on PBS News Hour.

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Letters, volume 1

November 14, 2017

Volume one of the Letters of Sylvia Plath has just been released by HarperCollins Publishers, an undertaking that The Guardian calls “tangled,” “fraught,” and “newsworthy.” This volume covers the period up to Plath’s marriage to Ted Hughes; a second volume is due next autumn.

The 1,424-page collection contains the full, unedited versions of Plath’s early letters (most from before she was 20). If that sounds daunting, Sarah Churchwell’s article in The Guardian may help.

get it write

February 10, 2017

Mindport Correspondence Club

Is correspondence with politicians, local organizations, far flung friends, on your list right now? Need info about size and postage requirements when making your own postcards? Need supplies? Typewriters? Mindport’s Correspondence Club meets Saturday, February 11, 2017, 10:30am-12:30pm, 210 W. Holly St. in Bellingham. Bring your addresses and postage, they supply the rest!

Elizabeth Bishop

If you are a fan of Elizabeth Bishop or if you muse on the mysterious interweaving of a poet’s life and writing, you may want to visit “One Long Poem” by Heather Treseler, published last week in the Boston Review.

The article talks in particular about three (unpublished) letters written by Bishop to her psychiatrist, Dr. Ruth Foster, in 1947, placing their forthright language in contrast to Bishop’s reticent poetic style. It’s a very well-written article and worth your time.

In considering how letters and diaries contribute to (or detract from) the understanding of a poet’s work, compare “How to Lose Things: Elizabeth Bishop’s Child Mourning,” a scholarly article by Diana Fuss published in Post45. Fuss focuses on the presence or absence of mourning in Bishop’s poetry, and one can’t help but wonder how Bishop’s letters might have altered Fuss’s reading of the poems. (If she read them, she does not mention that fact.)

Read more in the Fall 2014 Bulletin of the Elizabeth Bishop Society, and “Approaching Elizabeth Bishop’s Letters to Ruth Foster” by Lorrie Goldensohn is available for rent/purchase from The Yale Review, with additional comments by Goldensohn in the Fall 2015 EBS Bulletin.
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the lost art

February 15, 2016

Bison - Write More Letters

Bison Bookbinding, a lovely letterpress and bookbinding studio in downtown Bellingham, Washington, isn’t going to let the art of letter writing slip away without a whimper. Though these days a signature (if that!) on a holiday card seems to pass for a personal note, there’s still plenty of pleasure — for both sender and recipient — to be gained from “real” letter writing.

To that end, Bison Bookbinding invites your participation in a free gathering on the third Wednesday of each month from 7:00-9:00pm. The Write More Letters Club, led by Meghan Yates, offers inspiration and guidance in a friendly, no-pressure atmosphere. Bring your favorite writing implement (or purchase one). Find out more on the Bison Bookbinding Events page. (If the dates are not current, don’t worry — Bison assures us the monthly meetings are ongoing.)

Who knows….this could be just the inspiration you need to participate in this year’s August Poetry Postcard Fest!

letter power

July 20, 2015

letter

Imagine this (fairly typical) scenario: You’ve published a chapbook or a volume of your poetry. When you announce it on Facebook, everyone you know Likes your post. People show up at your readings. Some of them buy your book. For six months or so, your book has a life of its own.

After that…well, not much. You can sell a few copies here and there, but, mostly, your book has traveled the arc of its marketability. You’ve gone on with your life. Maybe you’re working on your next book, or even the one after that. But still, it’s a little sad to see it fade from attention.

So now imagine that one day you fetch your mail or open your email and there’s a fan letter. Someone has read your book and been sufficiently moved to write you a note. It’s a gift. No matter where you are in your poetry career, fan letters feel good.

What are you reading? Do you love it? Are you moved by a particular poem or by the entire collection? Why not take a few minutes and write a note to the author? The act of writing the letter will help you sort through your thoughts about the poems, and will, in fact, make you a better writer. You’ll make the poet feel good. Your letter may even help him/her get past publishing postpartum.

In your note, be specific: if you love a particular line or poem, mention it. If the poems have inspired you, say so. If you have a question for the poet, ask it.

You never know, you could get a reply.
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image: Letters of Note

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