I’ll just get right to the point: I love letters. I love writing them, I love reading them, and I love picking out nice little cards to make them special. If someone were to ask me why I love them so much I would give them a simple answer: they’re just so personal.
Having said this, it comes as no surprise to me that my first summer hit is a letter published in Artful Dodge 40/41. If you’re familiar with past issues of the Dodge, you may recognize poet John Kooistra and some of the letters that have appeared in the Dodge’s pages.
I don’t want to ramble on and on forever, but I think the opening paragraph in “A Letter from Cook Inlet, Alaska” exemplifies a lot of what it is that makes me so passionate about letters (and writing in general, of course):
I’VE BEEN MEANING to e-mail you but that turns out to be quite clumsy around here logistics-wise. And otherwise, I’m not much of a space-age guy. So I like to sit down with a letter, take it to the mat so to speak—which means, I guess, to have the time and space to visit the person you’re writing. And you’re kind of a homey guy what with your cats and living in an old-school house and knowing bird songs, etc. And, since fishing has been shut down, I have time to effect the above. But the danger is that this letter may turn into a cross-pollination between venting and a long sigh.
Perhaps e-mail is the more convenient medium, but I find that e-mails don’t really seem to go the same distance. I get that sitting down and writing a letter takes more time, and waiting for it to reach its destination is always a longer process, but I think that is actually part of the charm. Kooistra talks about having “the time and space to visit the person you’re writing,” and I think this is an important part of the writing process: imagining a place, and considering the life of the person in that place, and wanting that writing to mean something there.
All of this is not to say I dislike e-mail—not at all! The thing is, out of the two, snail mail is definitely my best beau.
—autumn, Editorial Asst.—