19 April 2012

you have the "write" to write to writers

Last week, I wrote a letter.

After writing the post on my poetic crushes, and professing how I would never be able to take advantage of the availability of a poet's publicly available address ... I started wondering, Why not?

Writing to the writers we admire:
furthering the poetic conversation
Poetry is itself a conversation between author and audience--it would seem that writing to poets you admire or are currently reading is simply a furtherance of that conversation. In fact, in honor of National Poetry Month, The Academy of American Poets actually encourages readers of poetry to write to poets, if only to let them know that we appreciate their work. If a poet is initiating a conversation with a reader when he or she presents their audience with a poem, it seems as though writing a letter to a poet is a reader's way of "reversing the conversational flow," so to speak.

Taking my own wonderings to heart, I decided that I couldn't put off what I had been longing to do for so long, and I actually wrote to Nikky Finney. And surprise-surprise ... I received a response! I won't share the full note she emailed me, but I will share that at the end of her note, Ms. Finney wrote that the letter "means a great deal to me. We are connected and you let me know."

That last sentence, to me, is exactly what writing to other writers is--sharing the blessed and beautiful connection that we share through the communal act of writing and sharing writing and reading writing.

So I encourage anyone who is reading this to step out boldly into the same warm waters of writing to the writers you admire. It's not as hard as it may see--Poets & Writers actually has a directory of writers who have provided their information to the public to encourage contact! Enter the community, and engage in conversation--as a writer, and as a writer who writes the writers you love!

And I (with a bit more humility) also encourage anyone reading this to engage in that conversation somewhere else: HERE! Please feel free to leave your comments on this (and any) post!

Which writers would you write to if you could? Which poets have you been in communication with lately?

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  1. So glad you wrote about this topic, Khara!
    Not long ago, I braved the writing elements and contacted some writers for a survey, just a small grouping.
    They replied along with some of our mutual poet group. I posted the results on my blog at http://pmpoetwriter.blogspot.ca/2012/01/writing-time-snack-survey-results-are.html.
    For contacts, I actually used Twitter as I enjoy the brevity and to-the-pointness (I made up this mix here). Writers responded and I charted their responses along with the other results. Have a good weekend!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Patricia! I took a look at your post (hope to comment soon!)--what a cool idea! An interesting set of questions, and an awesome response from writers! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love your topic, Khara. In high school and early college, I sent a good bit of fan mail to Marion Zimmer Bradley (The Mists of Avalon) and Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time).

    To reach out to a writer as a writer is different though. Earlier this month, I connected with a fellow poet (Clay Held) who wrote a poem that gripped me in so many ways that I wound up emailing him and promptly blogging about the impact his work had on me. Just today, I was featured on Vince Gotera's Day 22 post. That connection again manifesting from a "hey, I like what I am reading. I want to share it with the world with your permission".

    It does take a good bit of courage to put oneself out there and connect with a "stranger" whose work you admire. Think about it, the fact that you can resonate so much with their work means that there is an underlying similarity between you; a basis for a natural fluid connection.

  4. So true, Meena! I don't think I sent out much fan mail before it was to-a-writer-as-a-writer (outside of a terrible bit of fan mail I sent to Leonardo DiCaprio when I was ... let's just say, younger!), but I love how you describe the difference, and the "natural fluid connection" we find when we write to writers whose work we admire! Thank you!


Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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