Letter to a letter-writer
On friendship across distances
Did you know that I keep every letter and postcard you send to me, and to us? There are a couple on the refrigerator, and there’s a stack on the bookshelf in my office. My current favorite, dated September 10th of last year, is taped to a cabinet in the kitchen. Please know that I keep them all, even when I don’t reply. I find it difficult to write letters — especially to you, who writes real letters, handwritten ones. It’s not because I have nothing to say to you, but because my brain moves too fast for my hand, so everything I put to paper winds up sounding oversimple, as though I were trying to explain the Civil War to a preschooler.
In one of your letters, you told me that Frank O’Hara, “on his walks around NYC . . . would stop and type something up on an Olivetti left on a stand for sampling. Pen and paper clearly work still for writing — all of my writing is on paper — but I’m somehow saddened to think that now, on a walk through Manhattan, he likely wouldn’t find a single sample typewriter with which to poem.” Thinking about it today, I wonder if O’Hara felt at all the way I do, that his hand couldn’t match the speed of his thinking? Though somehow I doubt that was it — “to poem,” as you put it, seems like a slower form than “to prose.” I don’t know. Maybe he just liked the look of a poem in type.
In any case, today I am typing to you, and it’s a relief, honestly. In this modality, I can feel my brain rise and stretch to meet the “page,” like a horse reaching to take the bit. I will try paper again a different day.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to I've Got a Feeling to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.