Our Publicity Manager, Elexa Rose, writes:
We are now into the second year for The Letters Page and everyone at the office is so pleased that we ended last year on such a high with the successful launch of our second issue, the Pen Pal edition. We are really grateful for everyone that came and showed support for the journal in Nottingham at the event and I hope everyone enjoyed the wine and mince pies. I think that I may have eaten a few too many!
After reading through all the wonderful submissions for the Dear Santa… competition, reminiscing about a Christmas that seems so long ago already, I’m pleased to present the winning entry by Rachel Sykes.
That winter, after we’d met for the first time, you sent me a letter. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I guess I was surprised that you didn’t remember me, or the Sega Megadrive I so patiently waited for.
It’s only now, after ten or more years, that I remember enough to respond. We met that first time on a station platform, where my step-dad had driven me aboard a steam train that he and his friends had rescued and refurbished. It sounds weird now, doesn’t it, to remember elves and locomotives. But it’s why I found your letter so jarring. When it arrived, it came like magic, without stamps or a post man, just an unmarked envelope with an initial for me, but with no recognition of previous magics, of our meeting the winter before.
Still, I’m sorry that I took this long to respond.
And the first runner up: Sue Barsby.
Look, I think the easiest thing to do is pretend it never happened. You were clearly drunk and embarrassed and I was just lonely and pathetic. I do think you ought to be more responsible – I mean this is your big night. Once a year, it’s not like millions depends on your or anything. But I guess that kind of pressure is tough.
Anyway, I’ll go to bed early or something next year to try and avoid bumping into you again. Cowardly yes, but you’re probably hoping I’ll be sensible like this. I’m not sure I believe your “I’ve never done this kind of thing before” protestation.
Second runner up: Hannah Murray
Well it’s been another year and still no sign of that Mermaid Barbie I asked for when I was 7. All I ended up with were ‘educational’ toys; I think my parents must have written competing letters to your for all those years. But I’ve been really nice this year and not naughty at all. So hey, do me a favour: for my present this year I would really like it if I could hitch a ride on your sleigh and you could drop me off in Melbourne. Sorry to use you like a taxi service, and I know it’s a bit of a detour, but flights to Australia are so expensive this time of year and I’m desperate for some sunshine. Just land on my roof about midnight and give me a holler. I’ll bring mince pies and some carrots for Rudolph. I’ll even help you deliver presents! I think I can fit down a chimney…
Hannah (Age 25 ¾ years)
Now that we are into the New Year we all busy in the office preparing the next issue, the travelling light edition. I’m looking forward to this issue as the theme allows for such a broad scope of creativity. As students here at Nottingham, a lot of us have to travel away from those we love, often spending a lot of time flitting back a forth on long train journeys, on cross-county motorways, some even leaving their families behind in different countries. In this age of movement we are all too familiar with traveling far and wide, for work, for education, or maybe just for an adventure. Even though it’s almost too easy to stay in touch – only a call or text away – nothing helps to bridge the gap of distance more than receiving a letter. A little piece of home can be sent in an envelope, in handwriting you recognised instantly from the address on the front. I hope that this next issue really brings to light the power of the letter, and I think this theme will inspire work you won’t want to miss!
- Elexa Rose, Publicity Manager.
January 6, 2014
The next in our series of guest posts: Hannah Jackson, Online Editor, reports on our Issue 2 launch party (which already feels like a long, long time ago…)
Well, I believe it is safe to say that the launch event was a success. The Letters Page team whirred and flapped as the time approached, hoping that our time and effort reflected in the evening’s activities.
Impatiently waiting for our first guests to arrive we stood with wine at hand (for the guests - of course) ready to greet our wonderful subscribers and supporters. Amongst the first to arrive were two of our contributors to the second issue, Ruby Cowling and Ruth Gilligan. It was fantastic to finally put faces to names, and to the wonderful letters they had written.
Once all of our guests had arrived, the venue was abuzz with cheery literature-lovers alike, all discussing the wonderfulness of The Letters Page Second Issue. Propped in pride of place were the hand-written, successful submissions surrounded by tutors, students and writers happily reading and observing the beauty of the penmanship.
A strict no postcard, no mince pie rule was in place; however, after seeing our guests’ faces light up at the sight and smell, several mince pies were given to all. All our addressed postcards were posted through our very own hand-made The Letters Page post-box and will be stamped and sent to their lucky addressees by The Letters Page team.
We also held a Dear Santa… letter writing competition and have already read some brilliant entries. The winner will receive a free year’s print subscription to The Letters Page and a well-deserved mention on our webpage. (Stayed tuned for the announcement)
We were lucky enough to be present for Ruth and Ruby’s readings of their letters, both were fantastic and well-received – definitely one of the highlights of the evening to see the letters brought to life in the spoken word of their authors. I was even lucky enough to speak with Ruby and Ruth later in the evening and very much enjoyed listening to the meaning and creation of their letters. I hope to keep in touch with both writers, perhaps via letters?
[Editor’s note: Print subscriptions are not yet available, but will be coming shortlyish.]
November 29, 2013
The first in a series of guest posts from our editorial team: this week, Paige Richardson, Submissions Editor
I’m Paige, Submissions Editor here at The Letters Page. So, a day in the life of our journal… where to begin? As the job title suggests, I’m predominantly involved with submissions at the journal; I read through your submissions, all of which make for a mighty stockpile in the office. Seriously, who needs to climb Mount Everest when you can stand next to a letter-pile almost as big as it? (Disclaimer: this is somewhat of an exaggeration. But the submission pile might be somewhat equivalent to the size of your average adult-sized human.) (Disclaimer for the previous disclaimer: That was another exaggeration, albeit slightly less hyperbolic than the first.)
In all seriousness, there is no greater accomplishment than reading your way through the submissions for each issue. Granted, it might not have the same athletic requirements as actually climbing Mount Everest (example: I can sit and eat chocolate hobnobs whilst defeating the letter-mountain. You can probably eat chocolate hobnobs as you saunter up the side of Everest, but I imagine it isn’t advised.) What my paper-made alp requires is something of an entirely different nature: a critical eye. To be able to grapple with the notion of what constitutes ‘good writing’ as swiftly and directly as if it were a bear or a snow-lion. (Do they have these perched at the top of Everest? I feel like they might not. You might be able to tell that I don’t actually do any climbing at this point.) To be able to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes a letter good or great. What it is and why. This is a complex question in itself, first and foremost because each individual letter-writer tackles this dilemma differently.
In the next couple of posts, I will hopefully be able to shed some light on what it is that we’re looking for in a letter (not that there is a single, unified thing that we’re looking for), as well as some of the roles I have at The Letters Page: presenting a case for letters that I feel should be included in the journal (as if I were starring in a literary version of Legally Blonde), writing personalised rejection letters for those letters that don’t quite make the cut, and well as proof-reading the initial drafts of the new issue.
November 29, 2013
A new Call For Submissions (with obligatory cash money mention)
ISSUE 3 - THE TRAVELLING LIGHT ISSUE
We’re thinking about travel, and travelling, and being away from home. We’re thinking about the song, ‘Travelling Light’, from the second Tindersticks album, but that’s probably just us. We’re thinking about being away from home, and writing home, and writing away. We’re thinking about how distant you can really ever be in the digital age. We’re hoping that our correspondents will interpret this thematic starting point in as loose or associative or casual a way as they see fit. We welcome your letters - essays, fiction, poetry, memoir, travelogue, criticism, illustration - which in some way refer to the idea of travelling light. We look forward to hearing from you.
Deadline for submissions: January 15th, 2014.
We pay £100 in actual money.
You can find the standard submission guidelines here, but in essence your letter should be handwritten on a single side of A4 paper, in an envelope with your name and address on the back, and sent to the address below.
November 28, 2013
Open Letters Open New Debate in Social Media Age - Speakeasy - WSJ
When the Wall Street Journal wanted a pithy remark about the current popularity of the open letter format, to whom did they turn? Yes, your friendly editors at The Letters Page. We’re disappointed they didn’t use the line about open letters being ‘the stage-whisper of the epistolary form’, but perhaps it was a bit much.
They also left the bit out about Issue 2, featuring letters from George Saunders, Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride and many more, being out on December 9th, but you knew that already didn’t you?
Subscribe right here, if you haven’t already.
November 18, 2013
There isn’t any party like a The Letters Page party
We hope you are excited as we are about to launch the second issue of The Letters Page.
Join us as we send the second instalment of The Letters Page in the general direction of our subscribers’ inboxes and post-boxes. There will be mince pies, obviously, and drinks, and fine literary/correspondence conversation. There will also be a team of postmasters and postmistresses available with stationery supplies to help you write that long-intended card to a friend or loved one. Plus mince pies. Did we mention those already?
With a playlist of letter-themed songs, and a special guest on hand to press ‘launch’ at the pivotal moment, this is highly likely to be one of the parties of the season. RSVP now on our Eventbrite page to make sure you don’t miss out.
October 3, 2013
A Brief And Minor Moment Of Self-Indulgence
Our first issue is now available to download from our new official website, here; a special email memo with the download link went out to all our subscribers yesterday afternoon, and by the evening there was a minor hubbub of really quite nice feedback on our Twitter timeline. We’ve posted it here simply by way of keeping records for our back-office staff: file under ‘impact’. But also we’re a little bit pleased as well.