Long before I knew the word “epistolary”, I loved epistolary novels. There’s something about reading a book written in documents, especially letters or diary entries, that appeals to me on every level. Perhaps it’s the guilty pleasure of reading some one else’s correspondence? The change in perspectives? I also love that the form is so versatile and works well in so many sub-genres–children’s literature, fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, young adult literature, etc.
I don’t remember the first such novel I read, but I distinctly remember being fascinated in college by the literary sensation “Griffin and Sabine.” (Does anyone else remember this book? It’s kind of like “The Jolly Postman” for adults.) In more recent years, I’ve read and loved 84, Charing Cross Road , Sorcery and Cecilia, The Martian, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Breakout, among others. Please send your favorite epistolary suggestions my way! Reading always appeals to me, but legitimately settling down to read someone else’s letters is especially delightful.
This month it was my turn to select the Swagger challenge, and my thoughts turned toward epistolary poems. A nice challenge with plenty of room for choice! Hopefully my fellow Swaggers agreed. According to poets.org, “epistolary poems, from the Latin “epistula” for “letter,” are, quite literally, poems that read as letters. As poems of direct address, they can be intimate and colloquial or formal and measured. The subject matter can range from philosophical investigation to a declaration of love to a list of errands, and epistles can take any form, from heroic couplets to free verse.” (see more here)
We share our challenge poems on the first Friday of the month. While on the one hand April seemed to last an eternity this year, on the other hand, I completely lost track of time. May 1st snuck up on me and I found myself scrambling to create an epistolary poem in time to share today. To whom did I want to write? Did I want to write as myself or from a different perspective?
As I so often do, I turned to nature for my inspiration. One of the most welcome harbingers of spring for us is the blossoming of the Siberian squill, or scilla, on the hill up to our home. It’s an early blossoming flower and we look forward to its arrival every year. This year it’s been especially beautiful and we’ve been especially thankful to see a sign that spring is indeed coming.
To the Unknown Gardener,
Early each spring
flowing over the hill
in lush cobalt waves.
I often imagine you,
on a long ago day,
sifting soil through your fingers,
toiling beneath the trees.
Did you foresee
this future luminous river of blue
or did you simply glory
in the fall breeze on your skin,
the crinkling tissue
encapsulating each bulb,
and the satisfaction
of planting them
one by one?
in the soul of the gardener
who plants today
to gift tomorrow.
we thank you.
Molly Hogan ©2020 (draft)
You can find this week’s Poetry Roundup at Elizabeth Steinglass’s blog. She’s sharing a video of herself reading several poems from her fabulous book, Soccerverse:Poems About Soccer, along with some activities to do at home.
To see how my fellow Swaggers responded to this challenge, click on the links below: