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Nathan Floom’s bio:
Nathan Floom is Founding Editor of Heavy Feather Review. His work has appeared in The Seattle Review, Everyday Genius, and WORK Literary Review. He has a BFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University and is currently a MA candidate at Antioch University Midwest. For almost three years, he has served as a professional writing consultant at a local community college. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet him: @NFloom
Introduction: In many ways the letter has served as the essential, if not the only, means of communication from one individual to another. It has been said by many before that a good book or piece of writing will act as a letter does—traveling across land and sea to find a reader and convey a message, an act of transference from one person, one writer, to another.
This summer, for me, has been a summer of letters— perhaps the first true summer of letters. Historically summers have been a time for work: digging ditches, working in a kitchen, driving the mosquito spray truck, etc. The letters edited and arranged here reflect a summer spent in writing letters and reading letters for a class I created with Theresa Williams for my masters program. It was an enlightening experience to read collections from those who relied on the letter to arrive at a sort of freedom—collections from fictions that revealed a variety of truths all there own.
For the reader, I hope that these letters reveal a little of the magic I discovered through reading these books, as well as writing and mailing these letters to Theresa. Essentially, this entire experience has served as not just an observation on the continued relevance of the letter as form, but also as communication. Through these letters I tried to observe both form and craft in writing, as well as illustrate how the letters read for this class show the wider range of the people who live on this earth with us—each as individual as the letters they sent and the lives that they have lived.
For anybody interested, here is the reading list I created for this class:
“Prison Writings”, by Leonard Peltier
“Letter From Birmingham Jail”, by Martin Luther King Jr.
“De Profundis”, by Oscar Wilde
“Letters and Papers from Prison”, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Other People’s Mail: An Anthology of Letter Stories, Edited by Gail Pool
“Zoo, or Letters Not About Love”, by Viktor Shklovsky
“Dear Everybody”, by Micheal Kimball
Other texts I mention in the letters, sometimes in passing (I highly suggest all of them):
“That in Aleppo Once…”, by Vladimir Nabokov (short story)
“Steppenwolfe” by Hermann Hesse
“Why I Write” by George Orwell (short essay)