Letters from Aberystwyth
By Chloé Rose Whitmore
Edited by Lizzie Alblas
As a child of the neon-bright noughties, I didn’t grow up with letter writing. By then, we could send 30p texts on hot-pink flip phones, penning literary gems like “WUU2” and “urdumped btw x”. So I was a little surprised when a letter from one of my childhood friends, who had just started studying in Aberystwyth, turned up in my university post box. Especially as we already talked on the phone every week, comparing night-out war stories, flatmate drama and the takeaway highlights from our respective university towns.
But the letter contained everything our phone calls didn’t. The exact colour of the sea in Aberystwyth, the way she was still dancing round her room to our favourite songs from Glee, how much she missed her sister. It was the spaces between the drunken anecdotes, the life outside our phone-call gossip – scrawled onto a piece of torn-out notebook paper.
I wrote back. And kept on writing.
Throughout our years at university, we continued to send each other infrequent, rambling, slightly chaotic letters. Whenever it was raining, or our heads weren’t pounding with hangovers, or we wanted to procrastinate from our uni work, we’d spill our guts onto whatever scrap paper we had to hand. On our birthdays, the letters would have a £5 note tucked into the envelope: have one on me, babe.
As it turned out, my friend and I weren’t the only ones diving back into letter writing. In 2013, the same year our letters to each other began, the English department at the University of Nottingham were busy assembling the first issue of The Letters Page – a literary journal crafted entirely of letters. Since the journal’s inception, The Letters Page have published essays, stories, poetry and criticism from all over the world – all in the form of hand-written letters. Despite the convenience offered by technology, here were hundreds of people ready and willing to write letters. To misspell, cross-out, start again – just for the hell of it.
In a world of instant messaging and WhatsApp GIFs, it would be easy to forget about letters – to let them become antiques, yellowing in a shoebox under the bed. But there’s something about sitting down with a pen and paper, away from the blue light of screens, the incessant ping of notifications. It’s nostalgic, calming, even a little bit magical. And The Letters Page is here to keep that magic alive.
My friend and I don’t write anymore – she’s back living ten minutes down the road, and stamps are expensive. But still – I miss the letters. I miss having something other than parking fines and Domino’s coupons land on my doormat. I miss the smudged ink, the cheap paper, the well-travelled £5 notes.
Luckily, I’ve still got The Letters Page, in all its inky, worldly wonder. Fancy joining us? Grab yourself a cuppa and come delve into the digital archive of our latest issue, or subscribe to get our latest lovely letters straight to your inbox.
The Letters Page team are back in the office, and ready to read your real letters again. We publish stories, essays, poems, memoir, reportage, criticism, recipes, travelogue, and any hybrid forms, so long as they come to us in the form of a letter. We are looking for writers of all nationalities and ages, both established and emerging.
Your letter must be sent in the post, to :
The Letters Page, School of English, University of Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.
See our submissions page for more information.
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