Anne Lamott suggests an index card, and I have used these, but they suggest something pre-planned, organised. The envelope, especially if it has an address with a stamp or franking mark, is open to all kinds of improvisation. It knows it is inexpensive and thus prompts writing that is (almost) afraid of its own voice. The envelope has no ideas above its station. The low-stakes setting is ideal for getting some real work done. A sketch of an idea. The first line of something. The whisper of a voice overheard on the street. Or you might use it to scrawl a phone number, an email, or the name of a book. Its nature as an already used artefact reflects the impermanence, the provisionality, of all writing. Paradoxically, this invites creativity, the loosening of inhibitions, freedom. Somehow the envelope knows this and is welcoming of it. Somehow the envelope brings hope.
Published by Anthony Wilson
I am a lecturer, poet and writing tutor. I work in teacher and medical education at the University of Exeter. My anthology Lifesaving Poems was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015. In 2012 I published Riddance (Worple Press), a collection of poems, and Love for Now (Impress Books), a memoir, about my experience of cancer. My most recent books are Deck Shoes (Impress Books, 2019), a book of prose memoir and criticism, and The Afterlife (Worple Press, 2019). In 2023 I will publish The Wind and the Rain, my sixth collection of poems, with Blue Diode Press. My current research project, with Sue Dymoke from Nottingham Trent University and funded by the Foyle Foundation, is Young Poets' Stories: https://youngpoetsstories.com/. This blog is archived by the British Library. View all posts by Anthony Wilson
I find it irritating when you include an image that appears to have no plausible or meaningful connection or meaning with the post – there is no source reference so we can’t investigate further to make our own or discover your reason for including the image – if it’s just click bait – I am tired of it as a marketing strategy, I’d rather have someone (you) make an effort and apply their intellect or creativity to find something to stimulate my head or my heart – including random, puzzling or startling images just feels lazy to me. And tedious. Sorry Anthony, but I think it’s better you know. I imagine people will be split on this, I honestly couldn’t hazard a guess as to whether people will choose to support you or your work or simply enjoy these images.
Google’s reverse image search helps me to identify the image (for anyone who is wondering): it’s from Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery – a waxwork figure of the artist Gavin Turk as a drunk.
On a positive note – I enjoyed the content and the idea you shared so it’s not all bad!
Hi Anthony — I enjoyed on your meditation on an envelope, and have enjoyed following you generally. I have posted on instagram (The_Procreant_Urge) going on a year and a half, missing not a day; the last 100 or so my poems are nearly all 5-line tankas, well suited to a “post-card” format that I can photograph and post on instagram. I write every night between 9-11, distilling some moment, impression, experience,or idea scribbled over the course of the day for its evening debut as a poem.