Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lament of the demise of the handwritten letter

Elegy for the Personal Letter

by Allison Joseph

I miss the rumpled corners of correspondence,
the ink blots and crossouts that show
someone lives on the other end, a person
whose hands make errors, leave traces.
I miss fine stationary, its raised elegant
lettering prominent on creamy shades of ivory
or pearl grey. I even miss hasty notes
dashed off on notebook paper, edges
ragged as their scribbled messages—
can't much write now—thinking of you.
When letters come now, they are formatted
by some distant computer, addressed
to Occupant or To the family living at
meager greetings at best,
salutations made by committee.
Among the glossy catalogs
and one time only offers
the bills and invoices,
letters arrive so rarely now that I drop
all other mail to the floor when
an envelope arrives and the handwriting
is actual handwriting, the return address
somewhere I can locate on any map.
So seldom is it that letters come
That I stop everything else
to identify the scrawl that has come this far—
the twist and the whirl of the letters,
the loops of the numerals. I open
those envelopes first, forgetting
the claim of any other mail,
hoping for news I could not read
in any other way but this.

"Elegy for the Personal Letter" by Allison Joseph, from My Father's Kites. © Steel Toe Books, 2010.

I just started a Meetup Group called the Denver Letter Writers.  The purpose is to share in the act of letter writing.  I love paper, sealing wax, words, stamps, you name it.  And I plan to keep the post office in business all by myself.  We are actually doing a little Salon Tea at DTR in July where we'll kick off this Meetup Group.  I'm so excited - I have 6 other folks like me who want to attend!!

The poem above was shared with by one of the Meetup members.  I just love how you can "see" it.


Margaret said...

My paternal grandmother used to send me letters; she had lovely handwriting, also unusual these days. Stationery is harder and harder to find because most people do everything on the computer now.

Arlene said...

My father had beautiful handwriting and penmanship was still something taught at school. He used to tell me you needed to use your entire arm to write, not just your wrist.

Bel said...

I decided recently to renew correspondence with some of my old friends, now that I've found them again -- even though I did find them through electronic sources!

The Denver Letter Writers group sounds like such fun, something I'd really enjoy. Scrapbooking, for me, not so much, but letter writing I could do.

Dolly said...

That does sound like fun, stationery supplies being so drool-worthy -- and High Tea yet. *jealous*

Renewing the joys of letter writing, and receiving, is a wonderful idea!