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Poems you mail: share a poem

Share a poem in letter form.
Jess Eng
Share a poem in letter form.

When was the last time you picked up a pen and composed a letter to a friend or a family member? NPR's poet in residence Kwame Alexander reminds us that letter writing delivers something more to the recipient than just the words on the page. The act itself shows how much we care about a person. And, he says, the research shows: letter writing makes us happier.

It's the intimacy, the information we impart by way of our handwriting, our choice of writing tool, the ways we apply punctuation, how we interact with the spatial limits of the page – or postcard.

An epistolary poem is a poem in the form a letter — from the Latin, epistula, for letter.

It can tell a story, pose a question, voice a desire – or a cry for help.

We're asking you to write a poem in epistolary form, addressing anyone – a neighbor, a boss, a child, a lost lover, the park ranger – anyone to whom you want to express something meaningful and significant to you.

For inspiration, here's an excerpt from a an epistolary poem by Matthew Burgess, "Dear David":

This morning I looked

for your book online

and almost bought it

from the evil giant

but balked. Instead

I wrote a poem in bed

about a faux-leopard

jacket while drinking

coffee from a Bette

Midler mug. Marcel

says when he catches himself self-censoring he knows to add it anyway.

Anyway I scrambled eggs before rearranging my book shelves,

extracting the ones

I can live without.

(Excerpt from Matthew Burgess's "Dear David", Copyright © 2015 by Matthew Burgess)

So share your poem through the form below. Then Kwame Alexander will take lines from some of your pieces and create a community crowdsourced poem that will be read on-air and published online, where contributors will be credited.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jacob Conrad