One of the poems i had to read at school was by a Swedish Author Anna-Maria Lenngren (1754-1817) called: Some words of advice to my dear daughter, if I had one.
As often with poetry when I grew up I never really read it (or liked it), but the title made me realize that this was really in the form of a letter. Furthermore it marks an absence of a daughter already in the title which of course means a lot.
The form of writing a letter to someone, real or imaginary is one of the oldest form of poetry dating back to Horace and Ovid and has been used throughout the history.
It can be in the form of a love letter to a dear one, an open letter to a wider audience or a letter to a imaginary friend, in many cases it’s really a letter to yourself.
The most important when you write a letter is of course to clearly think who the letter is addressed to. Often the title of the poem becomes the address of the letter. You can start the poem as you do with letters, dear N.N. or you can abstain. Maybe it could be a “Dear John” letter.
The second thing is to think of a place where you are writing from. Are you travelling maybe, or alone with the echoes of your room?
The last thing to think is why you are writing the letter. Do you want to tell them something exciting, scold or advice? Do you want to engage an audience to your cause? Do you want to tell a story, or do you just want to somebody to answer you? Maybe you are writing to a wall
Letter to N.Y by Elizabeth Bishop
For Louise Crane
In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays and after the plays
what other pleasures you’re pursuing:
taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road gose round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl,
and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves
and suddenly you’re in a different place
where everything seems to happen in waves,
and most of the jokes you just can’t catch,
like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
and the songs are loud but somehow dim
and it gets so teribly late,
and coming out of the brownstone house
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
one side of the buildings rises with the sun
like a glistening field of wheat.
–Wheat, not oats, dear. I’m afraid
if it’s wheat it’s none of your sowing,
nevertheless I’d like to know
what you are doing and where you are going.
When you have set these three things your poem will write itself. It can be short, it can be long, it can be rhymed or free. You have all the choice in the world as long as it has be clearly addressed and tell something of the world.
The rest of us are just curious to peek over your shoulder and read your words.
When you have written your poem on your blog, link it below and remember to read and comment on our secret letters.