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Epistolary form & Maggie Nelson interview in jubilat

   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

Read more from the interview conducted by Dara Wier.

Subscribe to jubilat for a complete transcript.                                                                                  

What cannot be put in a letter?

jubilat 13's found content includes this list of items forbidden to be sent in the mail.

"Entry Forbidden" [Selections from the International Mail Manual, "Country Conditions for Mailing," May 2005, U.S. Postal Service] by Deborah Golub [excerpt]

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.
Police whistles.


Toys made of lead.

Read "Entry Forbidden" in its entirety.

Subscribe to jubilat for this & more like this!

— Compiled by Halie Theoharides, managing editor of jubilat.

May 26, 2015

May 17, 2015

May 11, 2015

May 03, 2015

August 02, 2009

July 19, 2009

July 05, 2009

June 28, 2009

June 21, 2009

June 14, 2009

June 07, 2009

May 31, 2009

May 24, 2009

May 17, 2009

May 10, 2009

May 03, 2009

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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