The Letter Project

March 27, 2012

Special Delivery (218)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 6:31 pm
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A letter from Suzy Anderson to Whitney Reinhard …

21 March 2012

Dear Whitney, 

I decided to stay in BG for another year, mostly to recover from going to school since I was three, but also to take time to focus on my writing and creative projects. So maybe we can go to the bookstores in May. I’m a happy camper in any bookstore. If I’m surrounded by books, I’m sure a disappointing selection won’t be an issue. Sometimes I go with a certain book in mind. More often than not I’m curious to see what books they carry. I prefer to be surprised and find a book I didn’t expect—one of the best parts of bookstore visits.

I printed one of the final drafts of my thesis yesterday. At first it was scary because it was physical evidence that my journey as a creative writing major is almost over. But it is also evidence of my start as a writer moving on. This thesis showcases where I’ve been in the last three years with my writing and also shows the beginning of my novel. My reading will either be April 12 or 26. We’re working on picking an order. 

Catching mistakes while I’m reading is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing to be able to edit and catch them in whatever I’m reading and then in my work. It is also a curse because it detracts from the story and often makes me disappointed (especially if it’s already published—why didn’t anyone catch it before it went to press?). I don’t catch mistakes on purpose and if I find them in your letters, it’s because that part of my brain turned on. And besides, when I read your letters, it’s because I’m interested in what you have to say, not if you use grammar and punctuation properly. I haven’t stopped myself once when reading your letters. You’re a good editor.

Perfectionism does get in the way! I guess it will just be part of my journey to practice letting the goal of perfectionism go and move on regardless of mistakes. I can do my best to learn from them. 

Good luck with molding your short story! Tense is one aspect I deal with in revision because I always switch tenses when I’m writing it the first time.

I would love to see “Wicked” again too! Maybe we can make a trip to Toledo and see it again. 

I grew up playing piano and violin, so musicals were part of the draw. As a kid I loved “Sound of Music” and would sing along. One of the songs I sing off and on is “Do, a deer, a female deer. Re, a drop of golden sun.” Yeah. I do that. I didn’t know they were doing “Titanic” as a musical! When are you planning to see it? Actually, I haven’t seen “Jesus Christ Superstar” yet. Some other musicals I enjoy are “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “In the Good Old Summertime,” and “Kiss Me Kate.” Cole Porter is one of my favorite songwriters.

Mike’s new book “Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Fictions” is one I’m reading. I met the artist at AWP. You’ve already read Matt Bell’s “How They Were Found.” His next collection is out April 15, “Cataclysm Baby.” I am so excited to start reading it. I’m working on Mike’s “Elephants in Our Bedroom” and my classical collections of short stories. I found the complete collection of Mark Twain’s short stories at Grounds.  

The poetry projects have definitely helped me focus. It forced me to think about the topic in a different way. For the bracelets I could describe them one day, use the words literally the next, but then I had to do something different with them the next. Until I took the words as a jumping point for something I would have never thought of otherwise, I would feel stuck. Then again, the poems I’m happiest with from the project are ones who didn’t stay married to the subject. If that makes sense. 🙂

I love it when writing makes it so you can’t sleep! I had an idea for a short story yesterday and I was antsy until I wrote down everything I brainstormed. Now to actually to sit down and write it this weekend…  

My rejections find a home on a pointed pencil taped to cardboard. It was inspired by Stephen King’s nail in “On Writing.” I’m glad you do the same. The rejections hurt a little bit, but once I stab it on the pencil, it no longer hurts. Rejection is part of the writing process. It is fun to see it grow, so it makes sense to feel they’re taking you to your goals.

I totally understand the testing for H.E.I.G.H.T.S. When I was kid it was the Horizon team. They quickly explained the masculine and feminine “the” of Spanish and gave us a short quiz. In English we don’t have masculine and feminine nouns and because I didn’t understand the concept, I failed the test and didn’t get on the special team. So I took Spanish in high school instead of junior high. My little sister was on the team. I was a little jealous, but I’m glad I wasn’t on the team, though, because I had great teachers who helped me learn things that have shaped me as a person and as a writer.  

I’ll have to check out “The Lorax.” I read a lot of his books as a kid too. One of my favorites was “Oh, the places you’ll go!” It’s a great book to read when you’re transitioning. And it’s especially one to reread since I graduate in a matter of weeks.

Reading a bio, book, and then bio might be a good idea so the biographies won’t blend together.

It is sad William Gay passed away. I remember when Madeleine L’Engle passed away. I was sad she wouldn’t write anymore, but I did go back to the library and read more of her works. I could appreciate what she wrote in her lifetime.  

I hope my letter also cheers you!


P.S. Have you ever tried to change your handwriting?


March 25, 2012

Sunday Mailbag (215, 216, 217)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 7:12 pm
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The postcard novel (story), continued…

Postcard story, cards 9 and 10 (front)

Postcard novel 9 and 10 (back)

Postcard novel 11 (front and back)

March 19, 2012

Special Delivery (214)

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

To Elizabeth Hagen from Theresa Williams

To Elizabeth Hagen from Theresa Williams (inside)

To Elizabeth Hagen (back). One of a series of cards based on Classical Korean poetry.

March 17, 2012

Special Delivery (213)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:38 pm

From Brent to Theresa Williams. Bottom image is the back of the elephant card.

From Brent to Theresa Williams.
Elephant card on thick art paper.
Back of mailing envelope.

Click on any image to make it larger.

Special Delivery (212)

Filed under: Letters,Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:21 pm

I received this mail from an unknown person in Toronto, Canada.  You can click on any page to make it larger.

From "Laura" of Toronto Canada to Theresa Williams. Note the Van Gogh stamp.

Sticky note which was on the first page of the letter.

From "Laura" to Theresa Williams

From "Laura" to Theresa Williams (2)

From "Laura" to Theresa Williams (3)

From "Laura" to Theresa Williams (4)

March 15, 2012

Special Delivery (211)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 6:13 pm

To Whitney Reinhard from Theresa Williams

To Whitney Reinhard from Theresa Williams. Inside.

To Whitney Reinhard from Theresa Williams (back)

A card to Whitney Reinhard.  One of a series of cards inspired by Classical Korean Poetry.

March 13, 2012


Filed under: Miscellaneous — Theresa Williams @ 7:57 pm

Apparently, most anything can be found at Wikihow”  HOW TO WRITE AN EPISTOLARY NARRATIVE :   

from Wikihow:

An epistolary narrative is a narrative inside a letter, serving the purpose of telling a story from the perspective of that character. It is a story that has not yet been told, and therefore it fills a gap or focuses on an undeveloped element in the existing narrative of the original text. The story dominates the letter: the character’s main purpose in writing is to tell this story to the recipient (a friend, relative or another character).


  1. Include all the structural features of an actual letter: address, date, salutation, etc.
  • 2

    Open the letter in the present tense and deal with the character’s current emotions and life.

  • 3

    Continue the narrative in past tense, as it is a story of something that has already happened.

  • 4

    Reveal aspects of the character’s ideology- their beliefs, attitudes and values.

  • 5

    Develop relationships with other characters through experiences they shared. You can include other characters that appear in the original text or create additional ones to suit your purposes. Write about bonds, rifts, conflicts or similarities or differences in ideologies.

  • 6

    Show how the character responded emotionally to the shared experiences.

  • 7

    Close the letter in the present tense.

Special Delivery (210)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 6:44 pm
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Dear Suzy,

It’s settled, we’ll have to do a small bookstore road trip. Just let know when the best time is because your schedule is more hectic then mine. Just don’t get your hopes up – sometimes the selection can be a little disappointing.

            I think the part of your brain that catches mistakes when you’re reading is a wonderful thing to have. I’m not the greatest at finding grammatical errors and I’m sure my letters are riddled with some I’ve missed. So we’ll just say I’m giving you practice in finding mistakes. I do know what you mean about errors detracting from a story. If the piece is entertaining or moving enough I can usually get through it but if the writing is mediocre and poorly checked I usually have to put it down.

            The advice you got at AWP about lowering your standards is sound advice, the only problem is I think our perfectionism might get in the way. I’m like you, I take the project head on, determined to do it one way. Like you, sometimes I want things in a certain order (like your journal entries) and that controlling part of me rears its ugly head. Whoever gave you the advice is right and so was Lawrence when he said to just get it down on paper. I’m trying it with the short story I’m writing right now. IT’s not in the order I think it will end up in. I don’t even think it’s in the tense it will end up in but I’m getting it on paper. At least I’ll have something tangible to mold.

            I’m glad you love “Wicked” and you’re really lucky to have seen it on Broadway! I love musical sin general. I saw “Wicked” the first time in San Diego and then again in Toledo. It’s coming back to Toledo again in August and I’m hoping to see it yet again. Do you like any other musicals? I try to go whenever I can but the tickets are expensive on my budget. I found out that Findlay has a community theater and is putting on “Titanic” in April. I’m hoping to see it. The first musical I ever got into was “Grease” when I was eight or nine. My dad saw how much I loved it so he got me all the musical movies he could find including his favorite “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I got to see Ted Neeley (who played Jesus in the movie) when he did his farewell tour a few years ago. He could still hit those high notes.

            It’s great that you’re mostly keeping up with the short story a day goal. I don’t think I could find the time and I’m not half as busy as you! Do you have any recommendations of short story collections? I always seem hard-pressed to find good ones.

            I like the idea of your poetry projects. I thought about focusing on one thing and write a poem a day until I couldn’t write about that object anymore. Do you think it helps you write when you focus on one thing like hands? Up until last night I hadn’t written a poem since Larissa’s class. But something came over me and I had to get this one out. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep if I hadn’t. 

            The one thing I have been doing this week is submitting my work like crazy! It has almost become an addiction in itself to see how many I can get out in a day. I’ve mostly sent out poetry but I have a few flash fiction pieces out and a short story. All in all I think I sent out twenty-one pieces. So now I sit back and wait for the rejections J It’s funny whenever I get a new rejection letter I print it out and pin them on a nail (on the wall) beside my bed. Overtop of them I have a plaque like piece of art my sister bought for me in New Orleans by an artist named Varg. It’s a piece of wood and 3”x6” painted red and then painted black around the edges. In the middle is a gold heart with three nails sticking out. I told her it was perfect for my rejection wall. I thought when I first started sending out my work that rejections would really hurt but somehow they don’t. I guess I feel like they’re taking me closer to my goals, if that makes any sense.

            I don’t envy your work load! I never did understand how people went on vacation during spring break. I always seemed to be swamped with homework!

            I love the frog! He sits on my desk and watches me scrapbook J It’s weird you had a bad experience or association with origami as a kid too. When I was in fourth grade they had people come in and test us. Those who scored above a certain percent on the test they gave us were placed in a program call H.E.I.G.H.T.S. I wasn’t chosen only like seven kids were out of the 112 kids. I didn’t resent the kids, most of them were my friends but I resented that they separated us from them. They were taken out of our classes during certain times of the day and were given special learning lesson (what they called them). They were given newer textbooks and things like that. Supposedly it was to help expand their minds. One of the activities they got to do was origami. I suppose that’s why I never had any interest in it until recently. But I do think it’s great you can do the frog from memory! I watched a YouTube video on the crane. I’m not sure if I could do it from pictures. I think I would almost need to see someone folding the paper before I could get it right. Thank goodness for the internet!

            I saw “The Lorax” last week and I recommend it if you enjoy kid’s movies. It was adorable! I have to give Dr. Seuss his credit. I loved his books as a kid and I still do. My favorite was always “Horton Hatches the Egg.” I still know most of it by heart.

            I got Charter’s biography of Kerouac from the library the other day. I’m not sure if I want to read that or On the Road first. I thought that way I went bio, book, bio. What do you think?

            Here’s hoping this letter finds you in good spirits!


Special Delivery (209)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 4:46 pm
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Postcard to Angie & Snooky from Theresa Williams. Charles Dickens theme.

To Angie & Snooky from Theresa Williams. Side 2


Special Delivery (208)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 4:37 pm
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From Ruud Janssen, Breda, Netherlands.  Ruud is the creator of International Union of Mail Artists (IUOMA)

Envelope from Ruud Janssen (Netherlands)

Bruchure about the Rubber Stamp Archive, Ruud Janssen, Breda, Netherlands

Rubber Stamp Archive brochure, side 2. Ruud Janssen, Breda, Netherlands

Postcard from Ruud Janssen, Breda, Netherlands

Postcard from Ruud Janssen, Breda, Netherlands. side 2

March 12, 2012

Special Delivery (204, 205, 206, 207)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 3:46 am
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Pages 5 and 6 of a group of mysterious postcards that have been arriving by mail to my university mailbox.

The anonymous postcards are still arriving from Staten Island, New York.  I did receive an e-mail, not from the author but from someone speaking for the author, assuring me that the non-English portions of the narrative contain nothing potentially offensive.  As I cannot read these portions, I have to take the correspondent’s claim at face value.

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March 11, 2012

Sunday Mailbag (203)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:30 pm
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Part of a series of mailart based on classical Korean poetry.  I found the fact of the poet’s one existing poem profound:

To Nancy Bell Scott (USA) from Theresa Williams

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March 10, 2012

Special Delivery (202)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 10:20 pm
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A work regarding Visual Poetry from Nancy Bell Scott (USA) to Svenja Wahl (Germany)

From Nancy Bell Scott (USA) to Svenja Wahl (Germany). Front.

From Nancy Bell Scott (USA) to Svenja Wahl (Germany). Vispo project opened, back and front.

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March 9, 2012

Special Delivery (201)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:36 am
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To Janessa (Canada) from Theresa Williams

To Janessa (Canada) from Theresa Williams. Inside.

One of a series of cards based on classic Korean poetry.

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Special Delivery (200)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:30 am
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To Niklas Heed (Sweden) from Theresa Williams

To Niklas Heed (Sweden) from Theresa Williams. Inside.

One of a series of cards based on classic Korean poetry.

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Special Delivery (199)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:24 am
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To Giuliana de Flori (Brazil) from Theresa Williams

To Giuliana de Flori (Brazil) from Theresa Williams. Inside.

To Guiliana de Flori (Brazil) from Theresa Williams. Back.

One of a series of cards based on classic Korean poetry.

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Special Delivery (198)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:17 am
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To Laurence Gillot (France) from Theresa Williams

One of a series of cards based on classic Korean poetry.

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Special Delivery (197)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:05 am
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To Debbie Clandenning (Canada) from Theresa Williams

To Debbie Clandenning from Theresa Williams (inside)

To Debbie Clandenning from Theresa Williams (back)

From a series of cards based on classic Korean poetry.

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March 8, 2012

Special Delivery (196)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 11:30 pm
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From De Villo Sloan:  Shroud of Elgin and other materials:

Creative Manifesto by De Villo Sloan

Creative Manifesto by De Villo Sloan (2)

Creative Manifesto by De Villo Sloan (3)

Play Money, created by De Villo Sloan

Play money (back)

Official Elgin Shroud materials; Lunch club card

Envelope back, from De Villo Sloan

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Filed under: Miscellaneous — Theresa Williams @ 1:19 am

I am posting a few epistolary poems I found at Poets Online:

Dear Rimbaud,

I am sitting in a square filled with yellow wrought iron chairs.
I am a young man trying to grow a beard
and drinking a too-early glass of wine.
I am twirling the ribbon bookmarker in a volume of your poems
and trying to pull the book closer to me.
I bought the book as a birthday present to myself,
but the poems, even translated into my English,
are in some language I cannot understand.
This I recalled

when I took down the book this morning.
I looked at the still crisp binding,
the pages yellowing at the edges, and still
La blanche Ophélia flotte comme un grand lys,
waiting for me to catch her, hold her,
understand her in some new way.

 Charles Michaels


To K.M. -a Young Poet

I give you all the voices of the past
so that you might find your own.
I take your desire to be published
and give you one to be heard.
I ask that you tune your ear to music
and ignore those who never hear it.
I give you the rights to write badly
and still love your words,
to not want to revise at all,
and to love the poems that are rejected.
I give you the courage to share your work,
the sense to know where criticism comes from,
and I take your wish to be famous.
I ask you to buy books of poetry, even out of charity.
Go to readings and listen when no one else does.
Turn your favorite poet’s books cover forward on the shelf.
Ask the store to order copies of something that’s missing.
Get someone else to read poetry with you.
Get someone else to listen to you read your poetry.
Read poems aloud, even if you are alone.
Write something every day, even if it is one good line.
Tell any poet you can what you like about their words.
Throw nothing away, write late into the night,
fall asleep reading, awaken with a new line running through you
like an electric current wanting to be tapped.

 Ken Ronkowitz


Dr. Grande — Thanks for the Lift

My heart made a fist
   when you read the others’ poems.
Blood squeezed out
   choking my breath
with chippy coughs.
I felt my insides flush
   and vowed to quit the class.


I could never write like that.


You led me through
   a labyrinth of words
where I banged against stone walls
stumbled over metaphor and rhyme
stalled in dark corners
   crying out for light —
light you freely gave.


My heart made a fist
   when you read my poem.
You read it once again,
 looked at the class and said,
   “Don’t you wish that you
could write like that?”

Cherise Wyneken


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Filed under: Miscellaneous — Theresa Williams @ 12:40 am
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It seems entirely appropriate to post this poem by Emily Dickinson here.

Dear March – Come in – (1320)  
by Emily Dickinson
Dear March - Come in -	
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat -	
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are -	
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well -	
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds -	
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -	        
But March, forgive me -	
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue -	
There was no Purple suitable -	
You took it all with you -	        

Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call	
When I am occupied -	        
But trifles look so trivial	
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise	
And Praise as mere as Blame -
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March 7, 2012

Special Delivery (195)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:37 pm
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From Lisa Iversen to Theresa Williams (side 2)

From Lisa Iversen to Theresa Williams.

This piece arrived as you see it, not inside an envelope.  It is interesting to me that the post office did not cancel the old postage stamps.  I looked up the author Frank V.  Webster and found out it is a pseudonym for a company that put out children’s adventure books in the early part of the 20th Century. 


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Special Delivery (193, 194)

Filed under: Letters,Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 7:34 pm
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From Mary England to Theresa Williams (1)

From Mary England to Theresa Williams (2)

From Mary England to Theresa Williams (3)

The ATC originally sent to Mary England

From Theresa Williams to Mary England. ATC.

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Special Delivery (191, 192)

Filed under: Letters,Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 7:08 pm
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Two from Suzy Anderson:

From Suzy Anderson to Theresa Williams

From Suzy Anderson to Theresa Williams (inside)

  And a letter from Suzy to her friend, Whitney… 

March 6, 2012

Dear Whitney, 

I would love to set a time to go to the bookstores in Fostoria and Findlay. Actually I haven’t ventured to bookstores outside of Bowling Green yet.

Thanks for putting perfectionism in terms of control and challenges. If I can catch errors in a story, I feel like it’s not perfect yet. I challenge myself to catch as many mistakes as possible whenever I’m working as a copy editor. And sometimes it’s hard to turn this part of my brain off. I read Josh Weil’s story in “Story Quarterly” and was disheartened to find three spelling errors. Regardless I enjoyed the story. My training as a copy editor makes me notice these things; I always wish they could’ve been corrected before going to print. Although I have gotten better about not letting the errors detract from what I’m reading.  

Afghans are treasures! I have yet to make one for myself, but I have a pattern picked out and just need to buy the yarn. I’ve tried making quilts—I’m still working on my first one. I’m glad your Dad has an afghan from your great grandma.

I wish you the best of luck with your new writing project! Currently I’m rewriting Charlotte’s story. It has changed a lot since I worked on it for Lawrence’s novel workshop. In my writing projects I have momentum at the beginning before it starts to fade. One of the pieces of advice I heard at AWP last week was to lower your standards. I’m going to use it for my Charlotte revisions because I was adamant about the journal staying in chronological order. Perhaps if I just write the entries I can worry about dates later.  

I love the musical “Wicked” too and in 2007 I saw it on Broadway when my high school orchestra went to New York City. Since I knew I was going to see it I tried to read “Wicked” and only read half of it before I put it down. It remains one of the few books on my list “never finished reading.” “The Hunger Games” is on my list of books to read.

You’re very welcome for the book. 🙂 Congratulations on getting your poem accepted!Reading a short story a day has been successful off and on. There have been stretches of time where I keep up with it and other times when I don’t get to it. With the books I gained from AWP, I certainly have enough reading material to keep me busy.  

Thank you for saying I’ll be fine after graduation. It means a lot.

My goals for this year are to finish revising/rewriting Charlotte’s story, write several short stories, continue writing poems, get some fiction published, work on reviews for different publications, write some more stories for The BG News, continue blogging, read more, apply to artist residencies, and so on. You have excellent goals, Whitney! 

I started poetry projects that focus on a particular topic. My first one was on bracelets based on the lines “I love you” and “I know” from Star Wars, the second on hands—which expanded to the body—and the current project is fear.

You also have good taste with the book lists.  

MAR is going well. I haven’t been able to attend the class this semester because of my work schedule, but I did write a review for them in the vol. XXXII issue. Classes are going well, just keeping me busy as always. I’m trying to get caught up on homework since it is spring break. We’ll see how it goes.

I love your first attempt at origami. I remember in second grade our teacher had us learn how to make frogs, and I couldn’t do it. I spent hours crying at my desk folding paper over and over again. It wasn’t until high school when one of the free book covers at the library had directions for frogs that I could make it. To this day a frog is the only origami I can do without directions. I hope you enjoy yours. 



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March 5, 2012

Special Delivery (190)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 10:30 pm
Tags: ,

Envelope from Guido Vermeulen bearing address and title of painted piece on other side: LE RETOUR DES LOUPS OU L'ESPOIR RETROUVE

From Guido Vermeulen (Belgium) to Theresa Williams. Painted envelope.

A poem by Guido Vermeulen, written in French

add and pass.  Ray Johnson Bunny Show.

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