Of words and text messages

“The letters of poets are not necessarily any more interesting than the letters of bank managers but Anne Sexton was an exceptional writer of letters” writes Margaret Atwood for “Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters”, which, by the way, is bedside companion these stuffy nights.

I’m lapping up every word of Sexton’s letters because this genre, the epistolary form, is quickly going the way of snail mail. Where we used to have letters we now have the business-like e-mails, typed messages on Facebook, and the curt and public, 142-character tweets. The last time I received something by postal mail was a postcard from a friend in Japan four years ago, and even that was a one-line affair. (Talk about literally dropping a line!)

When was the last time you’ve received (or written?) a real letter from a friend in cursive, with her personality coming through with her idiosyncratic punctuations and misspellings? ^_^ Hardly anyone I know writes using a stationery and a pen anymore, and I can understand the expense she’ll incur with re-writes. I would rack up a huge bill–I revise more often than I write.

Letter-writing has also been effectively killed by cell phones. I once engaged in a lengthy back and forth messages with a very witty girl friend for years, but because my phone could not support thousands of messages, they had to be deleted. It’s probably the nature of cell phone messages (and friendships) to be so ephemeral. Sigh. Would have made a good “Identities in Flux: Two Women Portraits in Text Messagescoffee-table book! .^_^.

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