Epistolary Ecstasy (Love Letters, Notes of Gratitude, Postcards with Brio): An Autumn Writing Class
by Mark Chmiel
“Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl.
Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.”
Alice Walker, The Color Purple
“And none will hear the postman’s knock Without a quickening of the heart. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?” ~W.H. Auden
“The one good thing about not seeing you is that I can write you letters.”
“Appreciation is the sacrament.”
“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because
it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.”
“A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh
I am always delighted when I hear from one of my young friends that she is thrilled to get mail sent to her residence. Such a grateful person is likely to thrill others by writing letters to her friends.
If you want to develop an organized, spirited, and regular correspondence with people in your life, join us for this fall’s writing class. We will practice different kinds of correspondence, but give special attention to writing by hand and using the postal service, as well as online possibilities. We’ll consider: spontaneity and schedules, breath and depth, the living and the dead, love letters and protest letters, our closest intimates and people on the margins, the unknown and the famous.
Each session will provide time for different themes, topics, and approaches and experiences of, as in French, solitaire and solidaire. A class blog will be available, but not mandatory, for those who wish to share their own process, relevant photos, favorite letters, and excerpts from their own writing to others.
We will meet the following Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 2:45:
October 15, 22, 29
November 5, 12, 19
December 2, 9
We will meet at two places:
Sessions 1, 3, 5, and 7 at the home of Fatima Rhodes (Central West End)
Sessions 2, 4, 6, and 8 at Cafe Ventana (West Pine)
On-line participants will receive an agenda and resources on each of those Saturday mornings, to work as they are able in the week ahead.
Recommended Reading (for Inspiration): Pick a favorite writer and see if she or he has a volume of selected letters. Let this volume accompany you over our weeks together.
Saint Louis: $150
Please email or text me if you are interested:
If you know someone who might enjoy this class, please share this announcement with them.
—I’ve facilitated writing classes each season since spring 2012. My second book, The Book of Mev, includes plenty of letters. My novel Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine is basically one long 200-page letter. At my blog, Hold It All, there’s a category called: Correspondence.