love letters as artistic medium

I was thinking about love letters.

Shoeboxes full of old love letters from years past that I cannot bring myself to throw away because they’re love letters. I don’t read them any more or have much positive connection to those who wrote them. I preserve them pretty much just because they’re love letters and some of them are even handwritten and who can throw away such handwritten, memory-laden, intimate documents, even if that intimacy is long gone?

Yesterday it crossed my mind that perhaps I ought to start mailing out love letters to folks who purchase Blood Pudding Press chapbooks. Yes, they are love letters written to me, but so what? I would like to receive a love letter written to someone else, partly due to vicarious titillating thrill and partly just because it’s a handwritten document—and I enjoy the idea of such documents being scattered or disseminated in a way that seems more meaningful than burning them or throwing them into a garbage receptacle.

Then it also crossed my mind that it might seem pretty disrespectful and/or inconsiderate to those who wrote me these love letters to just suddenly start disseminating them in such a way, but then again, they are MY letters and I can do with them as I choose. Those who wrote them don’t have contact with me any more, don’t love me any more, probably don’t think about me much any more, and most likely would never even find out that their missives were floating around out there like little paper boats or paper airplanes or scrap paper or masturbatory fodder or poetic raw material or whatever. They may not have intended for their letters to be used in such a manner, but what DID they intend? Whatever their intent when these missives were penned, those intentions are now obsolete. New intentions can be imparted.

So I guess I’m not concerned so much with being respectful or considerate of the current versions of these love letter writers, but I do want to be respectful of their past incarnations, my own memories, and the preservation of positive aspects of those memories. But are those memories being best preserved by storing them in shoeboxes that I never even open any more? Or since I am a writer/artist, wouldn’t they be better preserved if I somehow made use of them in my art?

Of course, certain aspects of my memories have already infused my art, but those were the psychic remnants. What about the physical artifacts? I could mail them out, I could slip them into library books, I could fold them into mail slots, I could cut them into smaller pieces and construct collages out of them, I could orchestrate a love letter swap…

Or maybe the love letters should not be the focal point of the project, but should be more like a back drop. Maybe I should make paper out of them—reduce them to pulp and then mix them with plant fibers. Maybe I should use them as printer paper or otherwise write/type/print new words on top of the old words. Maybe I should construct love letter cover art. Maybe preserving them in pieces rather than intact would make better sense.

I imagine that some non-writer types out there might be a bit horrified by these thoughts, but I’ll admit to being one of those writer types who feels that everything from my life may be channeled into my writing, if I choose to do so. Furthermore, I’ll admit to being a voyeur of sorts and so the idea of combining poetry and voyeurism into one project definitely holds some appeal for me. Personal poetry and intimate ephemera sounds like a lovely combination to me.

Also, I think there are different kinds of sacrosanctity; different perspectives re: what is or is not respectful. Personally, I would much rather have my ex-lovers disseminate or distribute my old love letters as opposed to merely throwing them away. I’m sure there is a good amount of passion in those letters and I would like for it to be directed into a realm that offers more possibilities than a garbage can.

Personally, I think that dissemination of or creation from could be a much more respectful, fitting, and celebratory way to honor love letters rather than destroying them. Creating something from them strikes me as a much better way to honor memories. Creating some sort of love letter tributary could be a more delightful tribute.


Tilt Press said...

I *still* have old love letters in a shoebox that have been given to me over the years and I'm married! I just *can't* part with them. I love all your ideas about what one could do with them.

hmm...now you've got my creative juices churning.

Tilt Press said...

ps - that was rachel ^^^^

Juliet Blood Pudding said...

Hi Rachel.

Yeah, I'm married, too.

Hmmm...Maybe I might have to somehow incorporate love letters into a future Blood Pudding Press project...