Throughout the 2013/4 year we have been writing about letters, communication, the epistolary. We have concentrated on prompts about mythical mailboxes, typewriter exchanges between a cat and a cockroach, novels told through letters, telegrams, notes, missives that swerve from bad to good news.
We have played with the materials, using envelopes as paper, to see how form affects function.
Our collaboration consists of corresponding with five guest authors throughout the spring of 2014. The authors, Amber Dawn, Alex Leslie, Clint Burnham, Kevin Spenst and Madeleine Thien, sent us a “seed” text as a letter.
We opened, read and responded to this text – whatever it may be – in any form we wanted to access. Perhaps our responses directly address the author. Perhaps they don’t mention the seed text. Perhaps they discuss a solitary preoccupation. We are posting the texts here on the site under each author’s name. To read Amber Dawn’s letter, click on her name, for example. Any responses to her letter are posted underneath. We continue to post every day.
We invite our guest authors to read our texts and continue the cycle of messaging by sending us any writing to our responses. You, the public readers, are also welcome to respond to the texts and send us your letters.
Thursdays Writing Collective and the guest authors have been reading these pieces in free, open-to-all public events. We restarted the popular V6A anthology reading series that brought so much Downtown Eastside writing to appreciative audiences.
Postal Code Readings launched on April 15, Tuesday, 12:30pm, with guest author Madeleine Thien, the current SFU Writer in Residence. The reading was in the Special Collections Room of SFU’s Burnaby campus. Carnegie Community Centre donated the use of their van to bring DTES writers and friends to the reading. Pictures of the event are under Madeleine’s section of this website.
Our second Postal Code Reading was with Kevin Spenst at Paperhound Books, 344 West Pender St., on May 13, Tuesday at 12:30pm.
Our third Postal Code Reading was June 19 with Amber Dawn and Alex Leslie. On July 31 we read with Clint Burnham at 7pm at Mt Pleasant Public Library.
Thank you to our collaborators, participants, SFU, Carnegie Community Centre and Canada Council for the Arts!
Here are some texts from prompts we did throughout the year:
On Dec 12, 2013 author Nick Flynn wrote with us. It was a day we learned of Canada Post cutting personal mail delivery service. Brenda Prince Middle of the Sky Woman took the announcement and did an erasure of the notice, coming up with this beautiful piece:
home owner resisted
hired private company
to correct this problem
in a single day
unable to answer
deposit empty tin boxes
or deposit wooden crates
Canada correct this problem
deliver us home
Pen pal, you are dear to me
for I can tell you my story
and pour out my heart
to your eyes and ears
for you taught me not to hide.
Pen pal, I owe you an apology:
for I am deeply sorry for waiting
so long to build up my trust in you
for I did not know what to do
all the years I had a mental block.
Penfriend, you have taught me
to freely write, and to disregard
that which my teachers have said
and to let my words flow freely
on the paper in front of me.
Pen pal, you have taught me
that there is no right or wrong
in the style I wish to write
but to vent out my feelings
and tell you my deep, dark secrets.
Penfriend, you gave me courage
to stand up to all the oppressors
and speak up against those liars
for you know I speak the truth
and that you will set me free.
Are you interested in still meeting
Strange the words spin
Around. And each one
Changes. As to where the
mind carries them.
So silent and cold.
which has the given texture
And interested leads us down
a path of
taking or not.
For interest is not there
or then would be.
And you are even.
Here to ask the question.
Or shake a head.
yes and no
are dangled with
the rest of these
like a collage
dancing in the
wind on its own.