April 15: Dear Candidate

In the U.S., it’s traditionally* tax day, and other years I’ve tried to work that into the prompt in some way. But in the U.S., it’s also a long, unsettling election year (or years).

Today, write a letter to a candidate–one you like, one you loathe–whoever you want to speak to most. A poem is better than a $1,000-plate fundraising lunch. It’s much more affordable and you can have a lot more face time.

Here’s another thing about letter poems: As Hannah Brooks-Motl notes in “Learning the Epistolary Poem,” letter poems can be written specifically to one person, or they can be written to one person but actually addressed to a larger audience. If it’s a poem that you’re sending out into the world, it’s by nature available to the public, so how do you distinguish between the intimacy of a 1:1 correspondence and the letter written for the world? Which are you writing today?

One more thing! At the end of this month, Kim Stafford is teaching an all-day Hugo House class: “Write the Letter in Your Mind.”

*I heard on the radio that tax day is Monday this year.