The Letter Project

July 28, 2011

Special Delivery (123)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:47 pm
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From Angie and Snooky to Theresa Williams

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Special Delivery (120, 121, 122)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 7:11 pm
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I received lots of things from Sally Baker Reece in three separate mailings.  Sally sent me a fabulous collection of postage stamps and savings stamps.  Thanks, Sally!  –TW

Gifts of letters and postage from Sally.

Special Delivery (119)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 6:35 pm
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I always love receiving pieces from Nancy Bell Scott.  This one is inside a clear envelope.  –TW

From Nancy Bell Scott to Theresa Williams

 

Nancy's work inside the envelope (back)

Special Delivery (118)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 6:20 pm
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Beautiful mailart from Nancy Bell Scott.  –TW

From Nancy Bell Scott to Theresa Williams

Special Delivery (117)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 5:44 pm
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From Erin Guendelsberger to Theresa Williams

 

From Erin Guendelsberger to Theresa Williams

July 27, 2011

Special Delivery (116)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 11:35 pm
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From Catherine Petre (Belgium) to Theresa Williams

 

From Catherine Petre to Theresa Williams

Special Delivery (115)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 11:00 pm
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I saw some of these Minotaurs by “I’m a Superhero” floating around at IUOMA and hinted heavily before S. H. sent one to me.  –TW

From I'm a Superhero to Theresa Williams

 

 

 

Special Delivery (114)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 10:49 pm
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A card from R. J. Ingram from Squaw Valley where he’s studying poetry writing with Bob Hass, Brenda Hillman, Sharon Olds, Cathy Park Hong, and Major Jackson.  Included, one of R. J.’s poems, “The Lemon Picker of Auburn.”  –TW

From R. J. Ingram to Theresa Williams

Special Delivery (112, 113)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 10:33 pm
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Two recent postcards from Jessica Lewis.  Original prose poems written on the backs.  –TW

From Jessica Lewis to Theresa Williams

Special Delivery (111)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 9:03 pm
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Surprise:  mailart from my buddy, Jim Lampe!  –TW

From Jim Lampe to Theresa Williams

July 26, 2011

Special Delivery (110)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 10:16 pm
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Recent mailart from Britt Svejstrup Jochumsen (Denmark): 

“But hey, no one (but myself) ever said that I needed the skills of Frida Kahlo to enjoy playing with crayons!  :-)”

“Freeing my senses from the frames of everyday life, allowing my imagination to overrule my normal frameset, creates a state of meditation.  Some days, I might call it an escape.  Meditation sounds better though.  I think both views are equally right however.”

“I realized that being creative is not about creating The Sublime that exceeds everything in its beauty.  It is more likely that the core of creativity is hiding within the art of communication!  I would like to believe that anyway.  That your capability to communicate your message and to reach people, to touch them, to move them, that is what true art is made of. “

From Britt Jochumsen to Theresa Williams

 

From Britt Jochumsen (Denmark) to Theresa Williams

Special Delivery (108, 109)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:58 pm
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Two recent mailings from Guido Vermeulen, Belgium.  The word chapbook is by John M. Bennett & McMurtagh.  Bloodhound Works chapbook by David Stone.  –TW

From Guido Vermeulen to Theresa Williams

 

From Guido Vermeulen to Theresa Williams

 

From Guido Vermeulen to Theresa Williams

 

From Guido Vermeulen to Theresa Williams

 

From Guido Vermeulen to Theresa Williams (chapbook by David Stone)

 

A collection of poetry by Guido Vermeulen

July 24, 2011

Special Delivery (107)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:21 am

From Alexandra Pharmakidis to Theresa Williams

July 23, 2011

Special Delivery (106)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 11:32 pm
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In this letter to me, Suzy Anderson discusses her writing and saying goodbye to Harry Potter.  –TW

July 13, 2011

Dear Theresa, I enjoy getting mail too, especially when I know to expect a book from Amazon or a letter. But the unexpected ones are exciting, like handmade cards from my aunts in Cincinnati, and they are always a treat. Your letter is one I’ll always treasure. The pink envelope with a hand “+ dull + with + care” made me smile. And the turkeys on the back—I could totally imagine the turkey walking across the envelope, showing me which side to open first. Cutting opening the letter’s seal took me back to the days where people sealed letters with wax and marked it with their insignia.

I totally agree that the mystery and the inability to explain the need to write, the need to use words to express what isn’t easily describable, draws me in as a writer. It is rather addicting to be in love with a story idea and play with it. Writing is like giving ourselves permission to be children, to explore the world in a way so we can discover truths and try to understand. I think one reason stories are so crucial to us is because they help explain the world and who we are as human beings. Look at technology today. We have video games, movies with visual effects, hey let me tell you about my day and other story telling methods. Regardless of the medium, a story is involved. Stories. They are the key to humanity. It’s our job as writers to unlock it. We do what we can, seeking perfection through revision, but we’ll never get it exactly right because we make mistakes. But that’s OK because there’s beauty in mistakes. If our characters didn’t have scars, they would be too unreal. Since they do, we can relate to them and explore through their dilemmas how they deal with life and all of its emotions and memories.

Kerouac’s scroll is amazing! I never thought about that as a possibility, but it certainly is motivation to keep writing, at least til the paper runs out. I wonder if there is a way to bring the idea back. I’ll have to look into getting a typewriter. In April I wrote 40 thousand words of the novel I’m currently working on, and when I printed it to revise, I organized it into sections and cut each section from colored paper to place on white paper. I didn’t realize the color would keep my attention more through the revision process because I’ve always been attracted to vibrant colors. Probably explains my fascination with art and Botero’s work in general. At least I found a new revision method!

Prose should look beautiful on the page. Matt Bell showed my class a trick: zoom out of your manuscript and see where there are big blocks of text that could be cut down, or vice versa, there is too much white space from dialogue. The look of the story should mirror what the text says, a lesson fiction can learn from poetry.

There is freedom in axing “all the things we know” but it is also scary. I’ve been examining my life in greater detail over the past year and there were points where I know I broke some bones and damaged some sinew, metaphorically speaking. It’s a painful process. Healing is sometimes more painful than the original wound, but at least the scars are physical reminders of the trials faced and the fight to get through them.

Thank you so much for pointing out Kafka’s quote: “A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.” While looking it up I also found “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?” I think this quote is interesting because we (especially as writers) need to find books that move us. If the characters’ pain is not moving us, we are not connected to them and not invested in their wellbeing. But if we care, it is easier to let the author guide the readers’ emotions. I know for myself I know if I am enjoying the story if I can feel my blood move, heart beating, breathe quicker, or if I respond out loud (like crying, gasping, yelling at the characters, etc.). But the quote is also funny because we don’t know if the book is going to “wound and stab us” until we’ve read a good portion of it. Oh, what a conundrum.

It’s strange to try and put into words what I experienced riding my bike in the rain, but I’ll try because I think it is an experience I will return to and attempt explaining in the future. So I’ll experiment here. I felt like a daredevil, as if I was taking too much of a risk and an insurance salesman should have flagged me down and quoted the statistics. At the same time I felt loose and unrestrained and if my life ended, I would have no qualms about it. It reminded me of the feeling I experienced when I put the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington when I went on the school trip in eighth grade. If I died then, I would be happy and have no regrets. I was part of something bigger than myself. It was as if I, as an individual person, did not exist.

With my novel, I’m trying to find a balance between sharing what I discover and keeping it secret til it’s finished. I really want to get back into revising it because I have worked on it off and on this summer. This is the first story I’ve truly been excited to write. I was ready to jump out of my skin the couple of days before I sat down to seriously work on it, knowing it was larger than a short story. I told people about it mostly to get people outside of myself to support me and let me know they were interested, invested in this story as much as I was, and excited to see the final product. Further motivation to finish it so I can share it with those who encouraged me along the way. And to thank the people who inspired me to keep writing and helped me grow as a person and as a writer so I can give them public credit in the acknowledgments.

We do get stuck in conventions. I know for myself that life burns brighter when the lines are swept away and risks are taken. Not at the expense of others, though! Sometimes the comfort zone is more dangerous than trying something new. It’s funny how much fear keeps us back, like a seatbelt. We secure it and depend on it to protect us.

I’m glad you can look forward to going out west next year. I’m lucky I was able to go to California over spring break. I wish it wasn’t July already so I could take a trip this summer. The east coast is attractive since I’ve never been further east than New York. We’ll see what happens before the school year starts.

It’s great that your summer is great and you have projects to work on. I will have to take a contemporary course, and I would love to take contemporary fiction if you’re teaching it. The book “Memory Sickness” looks a great read. I will have to check it out. Having your own writing space is a must. Since I moved into an apartment in BG this summer, I knew I would get a desk since we got it furnished, but during the school year I like to keep my homework and writing areas separate. Otherwise it’s hard to plop down and write when I have to move schoolwork out of the way—easier to have two distinct areas. Then I don’t have an excuse to not write. Although I have filled the extra table space with stuff and will need to have a cleaning of my own!

To have a history with your writing desk is extra special. The space should encourage the mystery of writing and the freedom to create. Unfortunately I don’t have a history with my desk, but that’s probably because my dad just bought me a desk this summer. I did have a wonderful time putting it together and picking what books would have the honor of being on it. And it’s been sacred when I sit down to write at the desk.

Hopefully the short story will work out. Don’t worry about me thinking death is morbid. It’s all about how you think of it. I think it’s insightful and interesting to hear other viewpoints. Death is a mystery all its own. As long as serial killers are not involved, death is an acceptable subject to broach in literature and for a deep philosophical conversation.

I love that you said “one kind of art informs another, so no matter what artistic endeavor you are giving yourself to, that time is not wasted.” Music (piano, violin, and djembe) have definitely influenced my writing, especially the cadence and rhythm of poetry and the flow of prose to the ear. Textiles (crochet and knitting) have contributed to my love of taking a string (or what appears to be nothing) and making loops with the aid of hooks or needles to create a final product. Finger painting is fun because I get to play with colors and make a mess. Without my other art forms, I don’t know if I could write what I do. I certainly can draw on wider experiences because of the other arts I do. They inform my work.

I have been catching on my list of movie recommendations. I’ve watched so many since May I can’t possibly list them all or name a favorite. I’m glad you’ve had time to go to Toledo and Michigan, at least get out of town and experience a different landscape. The deal on watercolor paper is amazing!

I made paper in grade school, and it was fun. It would be neat to write letters on homemade paper! 🙂 After I made the hat I wore it for hours even though it was 95 degrees out. I was so proud of it. I will certainly wear it when the weather turns. My djembe has been great for playing music when I don’t feel like getting out the string instruments or going to the music building to play the piano.

This week is pretty rough for me because I am saying goodbye to Harry Potter. I grew up with the books, discovering them when my aunt in Chicago bought me the first one for my birthday. Needless to say I was hooked from the first page! I went to the midnight premieres of the last three books at the local Barnes and Noble and have seen all of the movies, except “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” I’m going to the midnight showing this Friday.

Last summer I had the opportunity to meet Melissa Anelli, a journalist who worked for the Leaky Cauldron and interviewed J. K. Rowling twice. She wrote a book called “Harry: A History” and covered the fan-based phemonon around the series.

The books have always touched me; the last three in particular—I am drawn to the darker material and love having most of the ends tied together. Rereading the books after the last one has shown too that the clues have been there all along! Rowling certainly wrote with each character’s motivations and backstory in mind. This element, combined with her ability to build a world readers want to inhabit make the story so compelling, is the key to her success in my mind.

The soundtracks for the movies have been crucial to my writing because I listen to them as I write (and Celtic/Irish music). In April when I worked on my novel I listened to selections from the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” soundtrack and music from Howard Shore and Fin Tan. Looking back at my drafts I could see how the tone of the music helped bring out the narrator’s voice before I realized there was a connection and guide her on her adventures throughout the novel.

Love, Suzy

P.S. I’ve included one of my finger painting pieces just for you. The postcard was too small for my letter, so it’s just a postcard! I’ll send more when I’m ready. I’m still experimenting with the colors I have and trying to develop different approaches my character would take when he paints.

From Suzy Anderson to Theresa Williams: a portion of the original letter.

Special Delivery (105)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:37 am
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To Theresa Williams from Carla Wilson

July 19, 2011

Special Delivery (104)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 11:43 pm
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From Patricio Duprat to Theresa Williams

 

From Patricio Duprat to Theresa Williams

July 17, 2011

Special Delivery (103)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 11:41 pm
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From Nancy Bell Scott to Theresa Williams

 

From Nancy Bell Scott to Theresa Williams

 

From Nancy Bell Scott to Theresa Williams

 
 

From Nancy Bell Scott to Theresa Williams

 

July 16, 2011

Special Delivery (102)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:27 pm
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From Dani to Monica

Special Delivery (101)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 2:39 pm
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It’s always a pleasure to get a handwritten letter from my pal, Jim Lampe.  –TW

Theresa,

After several weeks of sitting around, staring at this large stack of stationary, I have finally found a few things worth mentioning in a letter.

But first, the essentials.

How are you?

Anything new to speak of in the Creative Writing Dept.?  Not that any of your coursework needs revision; I always found your instruction the most thoughtful!

…wondering if you haven’t yet reverted to any old-age methods–shackles and chains–as I would more likely have to do with any unfortunate students of mine.

I have just finished Murakani’s “Sputnik Sweetheart,” a wonderfully brief novel that astoundingly captures love and loss in two hundred pages.  This is what resonates with me, though.  Murakani mentions that the word “sputnik” literally translates to “companion.”  Yet it is merely a small chunk of metal coasting along the outermost rim of our world.  How tragic is that?

This makes sense for the story, though.  Two lovers, making passes at one another, coming in or out of contact, always looking back.  A great meditation on longing…

On the flip side, I have also been reading “Revenge of the Lawn,” by Brautigan.  Not sure if you have read it, and, more specifically, the short story entitled, “Homage to the San Francisco YMCA.”  It is quite possibly profound.  A wealthy young man replaces the plumbing in his house with poetry…

As for me, I am beginning a short story about a man who travels to Hollywood, South Carolina to appraise an antique pen.  Needless to say, the pen follows him everywhere and nearly ruins his life, or does.

I hope all is well with you, your family, and your infamous cats.

Jim

Special Delivery (100)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 1:51 am
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From Anon

Special Delivery (99)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 1:47 am
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From Anon

Special Delivery (98)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 1:42 am
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From Anon

Special Delivery (97)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 1:37 am
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From Anon.

July 15, 2011

Special Delivery (96)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 10:08 pm
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From Roberto Rios to Theresa Williams: two collages and an envelope

 

July 14, 2011

Special Delivery (95)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:57 pm
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Front: To Nancy Bell Scott from Theresa Williams

 

Inside; To Nancy Bell Scott from Theresa Williams

 

Back: To Nancy Bell Scott from Theresa Williams

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