Saturday, May 12, 2012


I subscribe to a daily 'overly personal' missive from Stephen of the Rumpus and it's led me to thinking about the new standards of personal communication. He writes (beautifully) of his thoughts while sitting in a park or at his desk or on the dunny for all I know. Dunno where he is sitting. I think he's a NYer, and overly personal to him may mean something entirely different to me.

However, Rumpus have got a thing going where they send letters. Maybe they are a photocopied version of a single letter, sent to thousands of subscribers, but the point is that they are letters.

Letters. Not texts/emails/walls. Letters. I miss letters. My auntie is a renegade letter writer. She's been writing a science thesis in Adelaide for about a thousand years and occasionally I will get a real letter from her. Her curly script and the sentiments within are a gift to behold at the letterbox. Letterboxes, it seems, are not only designed for bills, newspapers and junk mail, but letters.
I miss letters. (Have I mentioned that I miss letters?) The letters I have not written over the last ten years are symptomatic of the friendships I have neglected.

Today my Mum said, "Tell me Pearlie's address so I can send her a letter."
"I'm not sure of the street number," I said. "I know where she is because I've driven there. I know her email and phone. But how to get a letter to her? I'll text her and let you know."
My Mum will send her grand daughter a letter. Hopefully my daughter will put it in a shoebox for 'ron because my daughter is of the generation where letters are an endangered species. Whereas I've got boxes of letters from whanau and friends when I drifted around the country, hitch hiking and getting into trouble. I threw out the most problematic ones, which is a shame, thinking back.

 As an undergrad, I wrote a rather dodgey essay on what happens to the archives, once letters have been disappeared from our society. I think I scored in the mid sixties for that effort. My conclusion was that every banal email ever written will be saved somewhere in the cloud.
So what?
The postmodern literature of exhaustion. Bah .. Setting pen to paper, finding and writing upon an envelope, pasting that stamp, the physical act of walking down the street and posting a letter (and finding a functioning red postbox!).

After my Granny died, I realised she'd kept all the letters I'd ever written to her when Dad gave them back to me. I haven't read them again. They'd embarrass the hell out of me now, but I'd never, ever press 'delete'. How could you consign them to the fire or the cloud? Those letters are worth so much more than carbon or ether.


  1. When I inherited my Dad's strange assortment of 'valuables' I found he had saved many of the Father's Day and birthday cards I had sent him. As far as I knew he never did learn how to operate e-mail. I guess those cards were a tangible piece of evidence that he had a daughter.

  2. PS: should have said that they were hand-made cards, which makes more sense.

  3. Thanks Michelle, that was lovely...

  4. I hate "writing" letters because I can get the words down on a page far more quickly and neatly using my computer than a bloody pen! Does it still count if I print said letter out, place it in an envelope and then trudge down to the post office to get the stamp for it I don't happen to have and then post it? Fuck talk about waxing whimsical! All those years in primary school struggling to write acceptedly well formed letters to no avail, especially after someone swiped my essential to the process Parker pen. Why the fuck didn't they happen to mention that in the end I wouldn't have bloody needed to bother anyway!!

  5. I don't think my comment was as lovely as Michelle's!

  6. Just as valid though Robyn! Thanks.

  7. Not very bloody romantic though.......