Letters

July 17, 2008

The days since I started working at this library have felt a little bit like being a kid in a candy store, or a college freshman in the age of Napster–there’s a sudden feeling that everything I want in terms of books is suddenly right here, and it’s summer, and quiet, and not a lot of stuff is checked out.  This is because I want a lot of poetry, fiction, and criticism, and that’s kind of what liberal arts schools specialize in. So naturally I’ve been checking out way more books that I realistically have time to read. But one of them did get read last night, a book I haven’t seen in a good long while which was Richard Hugo‘s Collected Poems, and in that collected one book in particular, 31 Letters and 13 Dreams. I first read the Letters & Dreams in high school, and there’s no poetry like the poetry one reads in high school on the recommendation of a teacher who is very wise and generous and writerly. I love these poems. They are all written to other writers, and they all have the same title format: Letter to Kizer from Seattle, for example. They have a lovely way of combining the physical (place, weather, things) with the emotional (friendship, depression, joy). Here’s a sample, towards the end of this person’s blog post. I especially love the letters, and reading them at that age must have had a big impact, b/c some of the my favorite poems that I’ve written myself are letters. And even if they don’t turn out good, I always enjoy writing a letter poem. They’re just a lot of fun–you get to talk about yourself while talking to another person, which naturally brings place into b/c if you’re writing obviously you’re in separate places so you need to describe where you are. Also, you can say things that are a little bit deeper than you might normally say in a catch up letter, which is normally what I want to say anyway.

Over my peanut butter lunch just now, I got to thinking, hey, I just drove across the country and I need to catch up w/ some peeps, so why don’t I write some letter poems? I’ve been wanting to blog more about the trip, but haven’t thought of good ways to frame/start posts, and I’ve been wanting to reflect more on the trip and how it’s felt different than other big trips I’ve made. I’ve also been wanting to write people some long emails. So watch for some letter poems here. I’m going to start with ones addressed to people who are known readers of this blog. And oh yeah, I’m going to write them “from” some of the places we stopped along the way here, even though I am no longer there. That’s my poetic license, see. I’m going to write them here (or mostly here) in the blog, very little revision, so I’m not promising anyone great poetry. Just fun poetry, I hope. B/c what’s more fun than a letter written to you?? If you read this blog and you are my friend and you know that I don’t know that you read it, drop me an email so that I’ll write to you. And they won’t be in any particular order, just as I think of them. And we’ll see how long this project lasts!

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