THIS IS NOT AN EMAIL: Letters in the Mail from the Rumpus Part 1

I’m the kind of person who checks my physical mail box every day, OCD-style, sorting through ad flyers and bills for my monthly letters from The Rumpus.  Begun in January 2012, The Rumpus’ Letters In The Mail program offers subscribers a letter or two each month from a variety of writers including, Margaret Cho, Aimee Bender, and Matthew Zapuder among many others. The communiques are often very personal, and authors provide their address so you can write back, although I still haven’t done that yet.  Rumpus founder Stephen Elliott explained to me that, “We didn’t know it would be so popular when we started, but now we have 2,000 subscribers. People really enjoy getting actual letters and authors tell me that lots of people write them back.” The Rumpus also just started Letters For Kids, featuring letters written by children’s authors for subscribers six years and up.  I get those, as well, and pass them on to my goddaughter Emmy, a sharp critic, who lets me know which ones she liked, and which ones were just “eh.”

In honor of Letter Writing Month, we’re partnering with The Rumpus and featuring 2 of the letters this week, one from Deb Olin Unferth and the other from Gabrielle Calvocoressi. You might even consider printing these up to read later on when you’re far far away from your computer.  Enjoy! —Stacey Lewis, City Lights Staff


debIn the following letter, Deb Olin Unferth discusses her early years of living in Chicago just after completing graduate school. She describes a movie she watched continually throughout these years, noting the paradoxical interconnectedness of happiness and sadness. Throughout the letter, Unferth unravels the reason behind why she was so captured by this particular movie during her struggling, post-graduate years of trying to be an artist, and realizes that, in the movie, the protagonist is accepted even after she reveals her secret…

Expand to read the letter in full:

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