Writers: This alert is for you! July 27, 2022

Carol Brennan King

One of my writing friends passed this link from National Public Radio and our local public radio station: WVIA on to me this week. She thought you all might want to check it out as well, especially you secret or not-so-secret poets.

Here’s the link: https://www.npr.org/2022/07/14/1111473887/write-a-poem-to-a-friend-for-npr

It is a call to write an epistolary poem. Poets.org says this about epistolary poems: Epistolary poems, from the Latin “epistula” for “letter,” are, quite literally, poems that read as letters. As poems of direct address, they can be intimate and colloquial or formal and measured. The subject matter can range from philosophical investigation to a declaration of love to a list of errands, and epistles can take any form, from heroic couplets to free verse.

Checkout this page for a sample poem, or go straight to the bottom of this post: https://poets.org/glossary/epistolary-poem

For the newbie to epistolary poetry, there’s a sample below. Just write a letter to someone you have something to say to and arrange it on the page like a poem – think about how the lines allow you to show your emphasis on each phrase. The lines help you slow the reader down to read and think about what you feel is important in that sentence.

The two paragraphs below came from that url above:

For the latest “Morning Edition” community poem, Rachel Martin and poet Kwame Alexander ask listeners for poetry submissions. This round, the call-out is for poems in letter, or epistolary, form….

 Submit your works to npr.org/letterpoem, and then Kwame will do what he does. He’ll take all those submissions and turn them into one beautiful community poem. Kwame Alexander is a regular contributor to MORNING EDITION and the host of the reality show “America’s Next Great Author.”

Here’s a sample from someone I would love to be able to send it to:

Dear Mrs. Stevens,

I never envied your clothes,

homemade and thin of fabric.

I never envied your dented car nor

your life on a farm

small farm,

the barely scrape-by kind of farm.

I never envied you until,

until the day you started

talking about the Greek root

of some word in Romans.

I don’t remember which.

I just remember the wonderful

words you said, the way you said them

like a student, a researcher, not

the poor farmer’s wife whose dress

you wore. I remember when you

started talking about your

English-Greek Interlinear Bible

and the concordances, and I knew they

cost money and I asked you where you

got them and you said, I bought them

with my egg money.

I sat back in shame wondering

in a place of wonder and admiration

a new discovery,

it would only be me

my choices that kept me from

learning.

Thank you Ella,

I am forever in your debt.

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