Time to Write Letters

& Thoughts on the Odes of March

For years I’ve taught some version of a letter-writing workshop, (“Experiments With the Letter,” or sometimes “Art of the Letter”) every spring through Lewis & Clark College. This year I’m going to offer it through the university of myself, make it sliding scale, and compress it into two 2-hour virtual sessions at the beginning and end of April. We’ll look at letters and the myriad forms they take, (from letters to friends and family, letters to self, open letters, and op-eds, to cathartic rants you’ll never send, plus postcard art), and we’ll craft a plan for a daily postal practice during April’s National Letter-writing month. See instructions below, to reserve your spot:

How do I sign up? Email: laura@ideacog.net to hold your spot in the workshop, and I will follow up with a zoom link and instructions on payment

We’ll meet via zoom on two Mondays: April 1st & April 29th, 6-8 pm, PST

How much does it cost? It’s sliding scale, $20-200, (no one turned away for lack of funds + all proceeds will go to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund1)

Why should I make the time to do this? Perhaps there is someone you’ve been meaning to write a letter to for a long time. Maybe you feel so rusty with a pen and paper that your hand needs the exercise. Or maybe there’s something frustrating that you’d like to purge from your system. When we write letters, especially by hand, we allow ourselves to slow down. And it works as a postal invitation to our recipient to slow down as well. So part of it is to mess with the space-time continuum,2 to carve out intentional time from our accelerated click-and-receive culture, and see if we can’t invite others to join us. But it’s also a gift you give yourself, to reclaim your attention, sit with a delicious stack of envelopes and stamps, a favorite pen, some colored pencils, and maybe a cup of something warm to drink. Focusing on the creative act in front of you, and only that thing. Funny that it’s a radical act these days to do only one thing at a time, but it’s true.

Come write letters in community! Email laura@ideacog.net to hold your spot.

The Odes of March

Thank you to everybody who participated in the Odes of March3 this month. If you’re new to the Truth & Dare substack, you need only know that we challenged ourselves to write an ode each day for fifteen days, on any subject, (with “ode” being fairly loosely interpreted, i.e. no traditional form necessary). I wrote an ode to the sunrise, an ode to the people living in the minivan on 52nd Avenue, an ode to the Varied Thrush in the yard, (its song a fluted shovel, scraping the morning air). I tried to write an ode about the magpie slowly disfiguring our snow rabbit4 (see carnage below), and to

capture the incredible blue color we saw in its wing, whenever it took flight. I didn’t pen any odes that I was proud enough to staple to telephone poles throughout the city, or shout from the rooftops. But I’m glad to have had the practice, and I loved hearing from those of you who shared your odes/experiences with me. It’s not too late — feel free to share in the comments how it went for you.

My friend Hodge5 told me yesterday that he hadn’t written any odes because he still wasn’t sure he understood the ode form, and I realized for next year I probably need to break it down even more. Like this morning I was thinking: What if you just wrote a line of gratitude about something, like:

  1. I’m grateful for the cheeky magpie in the yard in Utah, with its brilliant blue wing.

Then you just scrapped the “I’m grateful for the..” and wrote instead:

  1. “Oh cheeky magpie in the yard in Utah, brilliant blue wing..”

Then you’re getting closer to something ode-like. And you can marinate inside that feeling for a few minutes and then write some more.

Anyway, when it comes to writing, to being amazed, to remembering to pay attention to something keenly with my whole self, I reckon I’ll fall short most times. But in the meantime, I don’t mind the practice of trying.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you at the Letters workshop.


Palestine Children’s Relief Fund


I don’t actually know what this means


You can read more about the Odes of March in this post from February and this one from early March


Notes on the building of the snow rabbit can be found in my last post


If you’re new to this substack, Hodge is the co-author with me of our book, Loaners: The Making of a Street Library, which was recently reprinted for a second run and which we are currently recording as an audiobook (!)

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