Every line of this poem has been taken from a letter written by Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo Van Gogh. Reading some of these letters reminded me that the world was a very uncomplicated place at some point. The simplicity of Van Gogh’s words but the complexity of the emotions and experiences conveyed through them helped me remember how powerful writing can be.

Writing letters to the world

Picture this. A flat in Tokyo, situated ten minutes from the city centre, inhabited by a teacher or a marketing executive. Now imagine them sitting in an open window reading your letter, the one you once posted to us. Or what about someone reading it from an office in Germany, or onboard a train in London.

‘The Letters Page’: A Celebration of Connection

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.

Letters from Aberystwyth

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 postbox.

‘Ink, Sweat, and Tears’

When my father was twelve years old, he used to work at a paper mart. He spoke only in his mother tongue, Gujrati. Although English wasn’t his first language, he was determined to master it. He couldn’t afford to buy books in English and those were rare to come by in the rural town of Jamnagar in Gujarat. In his spare time between sorting out old magazines and stacking newspapers, he would sit down with a tattered copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and attempt to learn.  

Mslexia: For Women Who Write 

It was ten years ago when I first picked up a copy of Mslexia. At the volatile age of 17, I was just starting to stretch into the world of writing – scrawling angst poems on coffee cups, napkins, the sole of my shoe. I didn’t know how to turn my dreams of being a writer-turned-millionaire into anything real or concrete, and well-meaning teachers had no idea which direction to point me in.  

‘Dear Damsels’ may be in distress, but they don’t need saving 

Whenever I read the word damsel, I’m instantly transported to the year 1999. There I am sat in front of the tv, eating a plate of – now extinct – turkey dinosaurs, watching another episode of Scooby Doo where, yet again, Daphne finds herself dangling from a tall structure, waiting to be rescued by one of the male leads. But, while Daphne is the ultimate damsel in distress, the voices emitting from ‘Dear Damsels’ could not be further from this notion.