Our most recent edition of The Letters Page, Vol. 5, ran as an email newsletter rather than a print edition, due to the constraints of the Covid-19 Pandemic. As such, it is available for you here, dear reader, online.
Within these thirteen letters you will find beautiful cold autumn afternoons, spring in New Mexico, a longing for Reykjavík from a dark night in Oxford, and walking trails in North Vancouver. You will also find the love of a stuffed tiger and the plush leopard bought to keep him company, the quiet bubbling of anxieties and absurdities the last year brought to the surface, the soothing blue of a ping-pong table, and the joy of witnessing a stranger again.
We hope that you enjoy reading them as much as we did.
Letter by Duncan Wallace
To the man sitting opposite me in the beer garden:
I see that you, too, are enjoying the sounds of conversation. All the tables around us are occupied, and people are chatting about their friends, their annoying colleagues, their vaguest of plans for future holidays. It is divine.
Letter by JL Bogenschneider
We miss you. All of you and everything: the components that were known, unknown and those neglected parts that even now we’re finding so many uses for in their absence. We miss the filling-in that was you and find ourselves resentful of spaces you might have occupied.
Letter by Annie Q. Syed
It’s very green outside today and not quite as hot as it will be in a few days. Spring in New Mexico is like riding on a bucking bull: it’s over before you know it.
Letter by Nay Saysourhino
Thank you for giving me two more extensions on the essay. I am sorry I have not been in touch since, but I am trying hard to finish the work, and it is my hope that I will be able to send the completed edits by tomorrow morning. It is, I must stress, a hope.
Letter by Nancy Campbell
I should be with you in Reykjavík, where tonight there’s an opening party for an exhibition at the National Library of Iceland. What an irony that JAÐARLÖND (“Borderlands”) is about cross-border communication. Instead I’m locked down in Oxford.
Letter by Julia Zarankin
You’ve been wondering about my life, about my routine, about how I’ve been spending my days. You mentioned Annie Dillard’s famous words, ‘how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,’ and it makes me shudder. These days have yielded so very little and so very much.
Letter by Rachael Smart
I’m writing from my temporary office at the ping-pong table. In these strange capsules we call days, a ping-pong table isn’t as redundant as it might sound for a work base. When the death tolls spike and the gravity of other people’s loss presses at my chest, so that it’s difficult to speak during video calls, I find the blueliness of the table brackish and soothing.
Letter by Aislinn Hunter
How goes your self-isolation? Is it bad where you are?
Sometimes now, when I walk on the trails near my home and meet another hiker, one or the other of us will back into a trough of fern to awkwardly pretend social distancing is normal, and I’ll ask ‘So how’s your pandemic going?’
Letter by Jody Kennedy
I think you’d probably like the South of France in spring when everything is still fresh and new (the almond trees are the first to bloom), before the summer heat (especially in late afternoon) brings the cicada’s incessant poo-tee-weet (about mid-June), dries the grass to brittle stalk, turns the lavender fields a deep violet, and makes the Mediterranean Sea warm enough to finally comfortably swim in.
Letter by Haisu Huang
Dear Comrade Ma and Ba,
Last time I wrote you I eloped to America to marry my wife. You replied with silence. I thought we’d talk about it when I visited you in the summer.
Letter by Ziggy Zezsyazeoviennazabrizkie
I know we have WhatsApp and you’re always online on Facebook, but I think I should do this with a letter – hand written. Gosh, can you believe how archaic? But I need you to know how much I need you to know, and how difficult this is for me. Among other things.
Letter by Xu Xi
How odd that I should write you on my “corporate” letterhead. There were several correspondents from Indonesia (the country of my former nationality) in the most recent issue of The Letters Page to land on my desk.
Letter by Jon McGregor
I have a confession to make. I am not a good correspondent. There are beautiful handwritten letters on my desk to which I have not replied, and ancient emails in my inbox still marked as unread.
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