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Poems you mail: share a poem

Share a poem in letter form.
Jess Eng
/
NPR
Share a poem in letter form.

When was the last time you picked up a pen and composed a letter to a friend or a family member? NPR's poet in residence Kwame Alexander reminds us that letter writing delivers something more to the recipient than just the words on the page. The act itself shows how much we care about a person. And, he says, the research shows: letter writing makes us happier.

It's the intimacy, the information we impart by way of our handwriting, our choice of writing tool, the ways we apply punctuation, how we interact with the spatial limits of the page – or postcard.

An epistolary poem is a poem in the form a letter — from the Latin, epistula, for letter.

It can tell a story, pose a question, voice a desire – or a cry for help.

We're asking you to write a poem in epistolary form, addressing anyone – a neighbor, a boss, a child, a lost lover, the park ranger – anyone to whom you want to express something meaningful and significant to you.

For inspiration, here's an excerpt from a an epistolary poem by Matthew Burgess, "Dear David":

This morning I looked

for your book online

and almost bought it

from the evil giant

but balked. Instead

I wrote a poem in bed

about a faux-leopard

jacket while drinking

coffee from a Bette

Midler mug. Marcel

says when he catches himself self-censoring he knows to add it anyway.

Anyway I scrambled eggs before rearranging my book shelves,

extracting the ones

I can live without.

(Excerpt from Matthew Burgess's "Dear David", Copyright © 2015 by Matthew Burgess)

So share your poem through the form below. Then Kwame Alexander will take lines from some of your pieces and create a community crowdsourced poem that will be read on-air and published online, where contributors will be credited.

By providing your Submission to us, you agree that you have read, understand and accept the following terms in relation to the content and information (your "Submission") you are providing to National Public Radio ("NPR," "us" or "our"):

You are submitting content pursuant to a callout by Morning Edition related to a segment with Kwame Alexander wherein he creates unique poetry based on listener submissions. You understand that you are submitting content for the purpose of having Kwame use that content to create a new poem or poems ("Poem") with the material you submit. You must be over the age of 18 to submit material.

You will retain copyright in your Submission, but agree that NPR and/or Kwame Alexander may edit, modify, use, excerpt, publish, adapt or otherwise make derivative works from your Submission and use your Submission or derivative works in whole or in part in any media or format and/or use the Submission or Poem for journalistic and/or promotional purposes generally, and may allow others to do so. You understand that the Poem created by Kwame Alexander will be a new creative work and may be distributed through NPR's programs (or other media), and the Poem and programs can be separately subject to copyright protection. Your Submission does not plagiarize or otherwise infringe any third-party copyright, moral rights or any other intellectual property rights or similar rights. You have not copied any part of your Submission from another source. If your Submission is selected for inclusion in the Poem, you will be acknowledged in a list of contributors on NPR's website or otherwise receive appropriate credit, but failure to do so shall not be deemed a breach of your rights.

Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. As the Privacy Policy says, we want you to be aware that there may be circumstances in which the exemptions provided under law for journalistic activities or freedom of expression may override privacy rights you might otherwise have.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jacob Conrad