I received a letter from a poet friend the other day. It was full of her thoughts and observations, the kind that people don’t always communicate in every day life. The kind of thoughts that require being written because it creates that space for thoughts to expand. It reminded me of an article I read awhile back in The Kenyon Review about a book of Amy Clampitt’s letters. We have record of so many past author’s correspondence. And I wonder what kind of paper trail, if any, will be left behind by poets and writers of our generation.
There is an inherent importance to letter writing that I think we’ve overlooked lately with the abundance of online communication systems. The immediacy of e-mail and blogging can also lead to quick thought. Letters require time; one filters and carefully chooses what to write down because there is an element of permanence or finality that you don’t really find on a computer. It is easy to delete or copy and paste to rearrange. No crossing out, no smudges of ink, no trace at all of the deliberation that can go into the writing of a sentence. That trace, imprint, record, is something tangible and necessary, especially for writers.
So, I think it’s time we start writing again. I don’t have a proper desk, but all the other elements are there.