Right now I'm reading Emily Dickinson's letters as part of a summer book club with Dara Wier and friends in the writing program, and we're thinking about the epistolary form.
For poets this form is familiar... in writing as in letter-writing, we might conjure a real-and-imagined addressee— someone we respond to, someone elsewhere who we expect might open the envelope, someone to be made aware of what it is we have been doing, thinking, meaning in our own words.
While writing to you, part of our imagination is also busy embellishing you— we are writing to our inner understanding of you... In addition, we are writing to and from a real-and-imagined inner understanding of the relations between us... And so the reality of relations within the epistolary form is variable; is reliant on the mind of the addresser.... (part of why love letters are so abundant, I think.)
The addressee propels the poem absently.
But sometimes there is more of an absence— here is an excerpt from an interview with Maggie Nelson in jubilat 24.
I think when I wrote Bluets I was like, wow, I don't have any addressee, and I'm very alone here, so that book in some way puts to the test what speaking to a "you" may or may not be. — Maggie Nelson
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What cannot be put in a letter?
jubilat 13's found content includes this list of items forbidden to be sent in the mail.
All maps showing the territory of Ecuador with incorrect boundaries.
So-called "Panama" hats.
Bits and mouthpieces made of copper.
Articles bearing political or religious notations on the address side.
Playing cards, except in complete decks properly wrapped.
Pulverized coca beans.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Horror comics and matrices.
Gardenia plants and seeds.
Toys made of lead.
Compiled by Halie Theoharides, managing editor of jubilat.