The Poetry Project


Kay Gabriel


Our experiments in writing tonight will happen in two different stages. Pick:

1a. Write an epistolary poem to yourself. (Questions to consider: are you writing in your own voice, or in someone or something else’s—Shklovsky, say, or a street or a planet? Are you writing to yourself in the past or the future? What do you have to explain, and what information do you want to withhold?)\

1b. Write an epistolary poem to someone fictional or dead. (Questions: What do you have to say to ? Who do you imagine is listening in? Is this a love poem? Are you venting your spleen? Do you have some information you need to impart? How is the fiction of writing to an imagined addressee different from the fiction of addressing yourself?)

2a. Pick a friend (or even a collaborative stranger!) who’s present in the room tonight. Write an epistolary poem to each other. (Questions: if you’re previously acquainted, what do you have to tell them about that they don’t already know? What’s the mode of your address—flirtation, confession, making an argument, telling a story?)

2b. Switch poems with your partner; each of you write a response.

3a. Reply to one of the poems in the packet, as if it had been addressed to you.

3b. Now write a second epistolary poem in this series. You can address this as if imagining a reply to your own illicit reply, or as a second letter to the same, original, recipient.