October 16, 2014
A (very) quick guide on how to send Issue 4 to a friend

Get that? (Don’t worry if you’re still none the wiser - a slower tutorial is in the works)

By the way, have you followed us on Instagram? It’s @theletterspage​ 

October 16, 2014
Letters From Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

Yet another bit of inspiration for The Protest Issue: Aung San Suu Kyi’s Letters From Burma. This collection provides an insight into the condition of democracy in Burma through the eyes of Suu Kyi and the peaceful resistance movement she lead to gain freedom. 

October 15, 2014
A literary postmark

The Letters Page would like to congratulate Richard Flanagan for winning the 2014 Man Booker Prize with his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North!

In case you haven’t noticed, here at The Letters Page towers we love all things post and literature related - especially in combination. So, imagine our delight to discover that the Royal Mail had decided to celebrate Flanagan’s win with a postmark

We’re hoping to see this postmark in person soon, preferably on an envelope containing a submission for The Protest Issue.

October 15, 2014
Introducing the new team: Alyson Kissner, Submissions Editor

The problem with self-introductions, inherently, is that we are meant to self-introduce.

An introduction: I am no good with self-introductions. I am also Canadian; I also like long walks on the beach; I like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain; and sometimes, I plagiarise the verses of renowned Jimmy Buffett, channelling his hopes for island escapism (if only with a little more hair).

I can’t really say that it matters. As much as I could wane on about myself, as a fan of The Letters Page, I’m more interested in what I bring to the table and how I might bring the journal to as many readers as possible. In my role as Submissions Editor, I will be handling a portion of publicity—although not our social media, #BecauseTechnologysHard #ImBasically80. Instead, I am responsible for contacting online archives and literary journals. I’m interested in increasing both the volume and the quality of submissions received. And how hard can that be? We’ve only published writers like George Saunders and Kevin Barry, and the recently award-winning Evie Wyld in our forthcoming Issue.

Sure, right. Shouldn’t have trouble at all.

Regardless, it’s an exhilarating experience being involved in the management and publication of a literary journal—especially one like The Letters Page, which is so individually committed to the art of letter writing and exploring its literary form.

Letters are amazing to me because of their humdrum necessity in our everyday lives, but also for their visual iconography. When envisioning the act of communication, letters are emblems at the heart of human relationships. Yet, as a member of the Y generation, letters are not a part of my immediate world. I’m the Generation who won’t look away from their phone at the dinner table, and lol, jk, idk if that isn’t true—but to me, letters are still out-dated.

It is not a thought that saddens me; rather, letters and letter-writing have transformed and developed in their meaning. For their scarcity, letters are made all the more rare. Receiving a letter is a gesture of intimacy. Writing a letter, too, is in the slow-scraped drawl of a pencilbutt; the I-ran-out-of-ink; the pause at the post office or deviation from a familiar route. There is a 21st Century slowness to letters. In thinking on letters for this blog post, I imagined, too, what it must be like to be enveloped in the wet of a folder and mailed somewhere far, far away: coolly pressed on parchment, silvered, beloved, safe.

If you have yet to submit for our Fifth Edition, I can only encourage you to ‘write to me and escape’ in a similar tucked-away fashion. You, too, can pretend you’re Jimmy Buffett. You can pretend to be whomever you want.

October 13, 2014
Introducing the new team: Kate Butcher, Offline Editor

Dear readers, writers and fans of The Letters Page,

I am the Offline Editor of The Letters Page, a new role developed this year.  I am in charge of recording the process of creating an issue of The Letters Page, not just for the sake of organisation (although that is a plus, and another main aspect of my job) but also to record the story of the journal itself, sneak peeks of which might be released to you lucky people via this blog/Facebook/Twitter.

Letters are wonderful – I have drawers full of letters at home that I can’t bear to throw away. I am probably a rarity in my generation; we are in the time of instant communication, where a reply is expected in seconds, and there are crazy reactions every time Apple has a new i-idea (meaning more connectedness).  

Letter writing is a slow process. But the waiting is probably the best bit – as soon as I see the post, and there is a handwritten envelope nestled between junk mail and endless pizza menus, it instantly makes my day. The real handwriting (although sometimes a challenge to read, but that’s part of the fun) is so touching, knowing that someone took the time to sit down and think of me and write about their life, to let me in on exciting news, or just to tell me that their week has been ok. To fight the urge to run(ish) upstairs and write a reply is a struggle, but that wait makes for a better letter.

Old letters remind me of times when S Club 7 were still big and smelly gel pens were all the rage, with some love letters here and there, but also moments before me, between family and friends much missed.

I will admit, I am bad at instant communication: texts will go unanswered for days at times, emails for even longer. But I know that all (or most) will be forgiven if I pick up a pen and add that personal touch.

And for every handwritten submission that falls through The Letters Page door, just know our hearts will leap with excitement, and our days will have become that bit better.

October 10, 2014
The Letters Page Issue 4 Launch, Nottingham Festival of Words - Friday 17th

As part of the Nottingham Festival of Words, the exciting fourth issue of The Letters Page will be launched on the 17th October. Why not pop along and celebrate with us? 

October 9, 2014
When you leave the Letters Page office, all sorts of exciting things can happen…

Although The Letters Page has just welcomed a new student team, we continue to keep track of past members of the editorial office once they’ve left us for the big, scary world that exists beyond graduation.

We were very excited to hear that our previous Production Manager, Olivia Rose French, had her work published in the A/W 2014 issue of MISO Magazine (a literary magazine for creative writing undergrads/postgrads/grads). Congratulations, Olivia!

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You can buy your copy of MISO here: http://www.miso.riversideinnovationcentre.co.uk/miso-shop/

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Filed under: MISOmagazine 
October 6, 2014
Martin Luther King's 'Letter From Birmingham Jail'

Are you looking for inspiration for The Protest Issue? Here’s Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’ written in 1963, an open letter defending the nonviolent resistance to racism. King wrote the letter in the margins of a newspaper and gave fragments of the letter to his lawyers to return to the civil rights movement’s headquarters. Reverend Wyatt Walker had the task of reconstructing the letter out of the many pieces of paper. The letter became one of the most important texts for the civil rights movement in America.

October 3, 2014
Introducing the new team: Harriet Dunlea, Online Editor

Dear fans and friends of The Letters Page, this is the first of many times you will be hearing from me. As the new Online Editor, my most important responsibility is the upkeep of this blog. I will be keeping you updated on all the goings-on and gossip at The Letters Page office, and I have plans for some very exciting content for the near future – so keep your eyes fixed on this unassuming corner of the internet!

Soon you will be introduced to the rest of the team: the new Submissions Editor, Subscriptions Editor and Archivist. I think I can safely say that all four of us are thrilled to be working for The Letters Page, and in our first meeting we were all humming with ideas.  I have asked everyone to think about what letter writing means to them – because, you know, letters are the main means of business here at The Letters Page towers.

So what do letters mean to me? It’s difficult to pin down one definitive experience with letter writing I’ve had – letters serve any purpose.

Letters mean reluctance – the thank you notes I’m forced to send on Christmases and birthdays.

Letters mean secret – the ones I’ve hidden and forgotten about, the suitcase of wartime letters on top of a wardrobe no one has peeked into.

Letters mean anger – hastily scribbled complaints about noisy neighbours, landlords, and generally insignificant injustices.

This last thought, if you hadn’t already guessed, leads me to Issue 5 of The Letter Page which concentrates on the theme of protest. The call for submissions was announced yesterday, didn’t you hear? The Letters Page team is eagerly anticipating the sound of an envelope popping through the post box. Will you be the first?

October 1, 2014
What do we want? Letters from you! When do we want them? By the end of October!

Dear Readers, Writers, and subscribers to The Letters Page,

Thank you for your patience. Issue 4 will be hitting your screens and printers in little more than a fortnight’s time. We’re sure your relief must be palpable. But in the meantime, here’s the Call for Submissions for the following issue:

ISSUE 5: The Protest Issue

Letters of complaint, letters of objection, letters of furious indignation; eyewitness reports from street protests around the world; recollections of recent and not-so-recent protests and sit-ins and camps and campaigns; reflections on the meaning or purpose of protests, and on the use of the letter as a political tool; letters to and from and between protesters and protest sites. These are the letters we’re looking forward to reading in our next issue. We’re looking for letters with a sense of urgency. We’re looking for some news from now. 

500 words, approx. Handwritten, and sent in the post to the address below. £100 for each letter published. Submission deadline is 29th October 2014.

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Letters Page, School of English, University of Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.

September 23, 2014
An online presence is not a system of debt, but still we have been awfully quiet of late, we’ll grant you.

Hello. Those of you who haven’t given up even glancing at this page may have noticed that we’ve been rather quiet over the summer. Since April in fact, which was when our bright-eyed student assistants were lost to a world of assessments and deadlines and graduations. We waved them goodbye, tearfully, and waited for a new batch to arrive.

While we were waiting, we got down to work on our next issue: Issue 4, the ‘Summerhouse Issue’, on the theme of dividing one’s time. We’re pretty excited about the submissions that came in, and the submissions we went out looking for. (One was handwritten on a coach trip through Croatia; another was pushed under our hotel door. It’s been quite a summer.) It’s been a lot of work putting the issue together, and we have neglected what is supposed to be our thriving online presence. There are only so many hours in the day. 

But listen; those footsteps coming down the corridor? Those are the new students, ready to bring the The Letters Page editorial office back to life. They’ll be introducing themselves soon, and we will be a hubbub of activity once more. Soon, we will teeming with thoughts on letters and letter-writing, correspondence, reading and writing in the digital age; all that stuff. Soon. Just give us a few more minutes. Meanwhile, put October 17 in your diaries. That’s when Ali Smith will be launching Issue 4.

April 9, 2014
Some thoughts on the millions and millions of books in the world from our very own Jordan Hallam. He may have been reading Borges.

If it takes a million journals…

Last year I worked on The Letters Page as a young and impressionable Opportunist. I have to admit, I was a bit naive going into the journal business. In fact, I keep discovering just how naive I am about a lot of things in this life. For instance, if you asked the fifteen year old me how many books there were in the world, I’d have probably answered with a shockingly low number, something along the lines of 20,000 or whatever. In the same vein, if you were to ask me a year ago how many online journals there were, or journals in general to be honest, I’d have answered very conservatively with several thousand or so. But how wrong I was about both. Did you know that there are more books on this planet now than you or I or the entire audience of this blogpost could read in a lifetime? Likewise, there are so many journals out there, we couldn’t possibly name them all, let alone read them. With the internet thriving as it is, even if we started listing all the journals in the world right now, we would find ourselves forever adding to that number - the list would continue to grow as more and more journals enter the fray on a daily basis. There is so much written now that we’ll just never be able to read it all.

And yet, that’s such a wonderful thought, is it not? You and I are never going to run out of things to read. Yeah some of it is absolutely pants, but some of it really isn’t. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble across something - a poem, an article, a story, a letter - that takes you, that points its fingers at you and says to you ‘You, yes you, I’m talking to you.’ You’ll listen to it too, and when it’s finished you’ll just sit there, unable to move. When you do get up, you’ll get up slowly, and for days you won’t get it out of your head. Isn’t that worth hunting for?

I want to find these texts, and I want there to be more of them. There will never be enough of them.

I remember last year while still working on The Letters Page there was an individual who asked us what we were doing, why were we setting up another journal, after all it’s not like we were offering anything particularly novel now was it. To that person I say pants. I want to hunt for that something, and if it takes a million journals to find it, then so be it; there’s bound to be that one thing that makes you tick in all those millions of texts. The wonderful thing about online journals is that no matter what, you’re going to find something there that’s right up your alley, it just takes a bit of digging.

- Jordan Hallam

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Filed under: hallam borges millions 
March 21, 2014
Journal of the Week, no 2

The second instalment for our Journal of the week is Bard College’s literary journal Conjunctions. Conjunctions is a biannual anthology consisting of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.  The magazine is published every May and November and the book-length print issue is available in bookstores and by subscription. For this week’s blog, I am reviewing selected pieces from Conjunctions 6:1, A Menagerie which was released in November 2013, co edited by Benjamin Hale & Bradford Morrow.

The theme for this issue in particular was the domain of beasts and consisted of various writings on nonhuman creatures. The issue has a large number of contributors including Russell Banks, Sallie Tisdale, Susan Daitch, Rick Moody and  Joyce Carol Oates. Some of the work is of significant length and even audio tracks are available on the website.

One of the pieces that stuck with me was Rick Moody’s Conversion Testimony, in which he explores a protagonist’s journey to vegetarianism. Moody’s evocative descriptions of meat as food and the reactions to its consumption are fascinating. The language Moody uses in his descriptions is almost enough to make any meat-lover consider cutting back. The protagonist’s voice resonates throughout the text and I mentally took the journey with him. Moody writes with surety; so much so that I felt as if I was listening to a lecture delivered by the character– an interesting one at that!

Conjunctions balances new writers with those well-known and yet the fiction and non-fiction I read was equally satisfying, no matter who the writer.

Conjunctions also has a free weekly online journal on Web Conjunctions which showcases the work of one writer each week who didn’t quite make the cut for the theme of the magazine issue. They also make a for an interesting read.

Visit the Conjunctions website for further information.  

-        Hannah Jackson, Online Editor. 

March 19, 2014
Readers who enjoyed The Letters Page also enjoyed .. (the first in an occasional series)

Although our starting point here at The Letters Page is always the handwritten letter-in-the-mail, we do also enjoy correspondence in any form. And through such correspondence (the electronic mail, the ‘tweet’, the web log posting) we have built links with more and more fellow lovers of the letter and of the written word. All of which is by way of lengthy preamble to telling you about this event, hosted by one Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam of Texas, who was good enough to recently feature The Letters Page on her own site.

Arts & Words, which takes place at Art on the Boulevard in Texas on the 27th of September, is an appreciation and collaboration of spoken word and visual art with a new twist.

Writers and artists can submit work from anywhere and you do not have to be able to attend in order to submit, although anyone can attend and all pieces will be displayed at Art on the Boulevard for a week. The interesting point is how the event brings the artists and writers together… a dozen spoken word pieces and a dozen visual arts pieces are selected and then each have to choose one piece from the opposite genre to inspire a response, a new work directly derived from the combinations of art.

This year will be the third of its kind and if it seems like a project you’d like to get involved in Arts & Words are currently accepting submissions for this year’s event. So whether you are a poet, fiction, non-fiction or visual artist you can apply as long as you’re up for the challenge! It’s come a long way from when it began in 2012 as a Kickstarter project, the interested in gained proved that this is a project worth keeping an eye on.

Full details about the event can be found here:

- Elexa Rose, Publicity Manager

March 14, 2014
Our Production Manager writes/emails:

Becoming a part of The Letters Page team really fascinated me because of its celebration of handwritten communication, and I’ve since learnt that letter writing is a very precise art form. In this light, making a case for the redeeming features of emailing appears daunting. What my role as Production Manager at The Letters Page has taught me is that emailing is in fact as essential as letter-writing. Rather than rallying to champion one form of writing over the other, it’s important to understand why one sustains the other and vice versa.

The ways in which I came to accept this literary yin-yang stem from my fascination with the actual processes involved in publication and production. This ranges from when a person first decides that the words in their head really deserve a record in ink and paper, to what makes others decide that their writing really deserves a wider audience, and gathering all that writing in the conceptual and physical space of a journal then distributing it across the world. Read simply: creation, appreciation, publication, distribution.

On one side of me there’s the editorial team:  Jon, Paige and student volunteers, doing a lot of the reading and getting excited about some incredible pieces of writing (see Paige’s blog last week). On the other side there’s our publicity and online team waiting for the next issue to materialise so they can start telling the entire world how wonderful it is. My job at The Letters Page falls right in the middle of that process: the final selection is passed on to me, and I get in touch with the writers via email, let them know how much we liked their piece, send them a contract, request details in order to process their writer fees, request biographical information and footnoting, and a few other things. Once this information is all gathered, the writing can be collated and formatted and made into a part of a whole new thing. Which is pretty satisfying

Emailing is essential to this. It’s free, it’s instant, and it has a significant global reach. It means we can communicate with and publish writers from all over the world. It allows us to reach hundreds of readers and writers, encouraging, generating and publishing more writing that interests us and our readers (have I mentioned reading and writing enough, yet?). It’s important to us that all the submissions we receive are in the form of a handwritten letter, but from that point there’s so much we want to do and not enough time to do it via post. Helping to produce the journal is how I learnt to appreciate the role that email plays in an environment which champions the written word.

I also think that emailing has lessened the pressure on letter writing and given it more space to breathe as a form of art. By doing a lot of the more boring stuff online, from bank statements and contracting to booking confirmations, the things we put down on paper and send in the post have more meaning, and more deliberation. A lot of my friends still get excited at the sight of a handwritten envelope addressed to them falling onto the doormat, and it’s not because they’re expecting a handwritten “Claim your free iPad and $250 cash now!!!” advertisement. It’s because it’s something aside from the everyday, that’s meant for them and only them. If someone puts their thoughts on paper and sends it to you, it’s significant. It’s personal, artistic and unusual. It’s why we get excited about letters, and it’s why The Letters Page gets excited every time there’s a letter to us waiting in the post box on the other side of our office door.

- Olivia French, Production Manager.