‘The Letters Page’: A Celebration of Connection
By Shannon Pendleton
Edited by Lizzie Alblas
When I first moved to Nottingham, I clung to anything that reminded me of home, as the first week came ailed with a homesickness that followed me around as I navigated a new city, a new course, and new people. One of these ‘home things’ was a letter my Nan had written me back when I was in school. Blue-tacked to my bedside wall, I read it every night before bed, and woke up to it every morning. With her messy cursive scrawl patterning the page like a piece of art, – along with the doodles of her old dog drawn in one curled corner – every time I read it, I felt like no time had passed since the last time I saw her. In the letter, she detailed what she was up to that day, how she was sitting on the sofa while her dog, Beauty, snored in slumber on her slippered toes. She wrote that, when Beauty woke from her afternoon nap, they were going to plant a new tree in the garden. She wrote that she hoped I was having a good day at school, and then ended the letter by telling me that she loved me and that I shouldn’t worry about anything.
Since her passing, I’ve found myself riddled with the worry that I’m going to forget what she was like. But in that single letter, – with handwriting that could only belong to her – a day in the life of my Nan was perfectly captured and immortalised. Her reassuring words, clear in black ink, always there for me to remind myself of.
Today, when we’re away from our loved ones, we stay connected through pixels instead of the post, and, although that’s quick, it strips us of the day’s detail. Our loved ones are now swallowed by our phones, pocketed in our jeans for convenience. This is why I think it’s important to keep writing letters and this is what The Letters Page (TLP) is all about.
TLP is a literary journal founded in 2013 by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, edited by Jon McGregor. With six issues under its belt, TLP has a predominantly printed presence – aside from the last two issues which were made available as an online newsletter due to the restrictions of COVID19. The journal celebrates essays, stories, poetry, memoirs, travelogues, and criticism, all written in the form of a letter. Featuring work from writers such as Ruby Cowling, Nicole Flattery, and Eimear McBride, TLP highlights an array of talent from all over the world. Along with a typed copy for easy reading, each piece is provided in the copied form of the hand-written original, providing the personal touch of how the writer dotted their I’s and how they signed their names at the bottom. In this immersive reading experience, you fall back in love with letters and with people as this journal displays the beauty of the intimately ordinary, celebrating the detail of human connection in a collection of letters as if they are all addressed to you, the reader.
Today, the world is so fast, upheld by a craving for easiness and quickness, for abbreviation and ‘long-story-short’. It’s brilliant to be able to call your mum at a moment’s notice, or text your partner goodnight, but sometimes the best and most memorable moments of deep connection come more slowly, with more effort. Sometimes it requires an aching hand with ink-splattered palms, as you refuse to spare any detail. And sometimes it needs to be holdable in your hands, and stickable to a bedroom wall. If you agree, then TLP is for you.
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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