Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

Poet Russell Edson wrote a poem titled “Let Us Consider,” which uses the title as a refrain. 

Notice how the three stanzas each begin with the same phrase, “Let us consider…” and then build from there, ending with ellipses. 

On a separate note, many of the authors I’ve quoted use repetition to develop friction within prose or poetry: they take a phrase and then redefine it before pivoting in a different direction. Repetition (or anaphora) is a fabulous pogo-stick one can ride to avoid long transitions. Look at how Sam Riviere rides the pogo-stick in his poem, “From the Epigrams of Martial”:

“but the cover version is always better than the original
I know that the cover version is always better than the original
and the reason I know the cover version is always better than the original
is that I’ve never heard the original”

In conclusion, a letter can resemble a monologue – it can veer into the long, degressive rent that chases all the shapes of an idea— precisely because there is no one to step in and stop the rant. There is no one to intercede and ask for qualification. In their novels, W. G. Sebald and Thomas Bernhard often engage a sort of buried epistolary form by speaking to the reader as the recipient of a letter, or the stranger who is opening a time capsule. 

And the letter has a date with time—it exists in sharp relation to it, as well as the threat of not being sent or received. This letter calls upon a longer duration than the email (i.e. the distance between the instantaneity of pressing send, and the addressing, stamping, mailing, and then, waiting for a postal letter to arrive). We are always writing in tandem with time and against it. 

Dear John— Giacometti’s woman is holding the blank a woman becomes when she wakes up next to her nightmare for a year. The time you occupied in my life, that unbelievable emptiness. I took that copy of Proust your grandmother gave you. And that was my gift to you, an emptiness on your shelf which once held the book you never read. 

Dear reader — no matter what I do and how much I show you, when it comes to the page, I can’t get naked enough.