Forgotten Art: Jasper’s Profile

The Pen Pal Project Online Application

Please complete the following questions as accurately and honestly as possible. Your sincere responses will help us match you with the applicants most suited to correspond with you.

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Name: Jasper McCumber

Select your age bracket: 62+

Profession: Retired Professor of Literature, University of Windenburg

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How many pen pals are your interested in acquiring? Two-three

What qualities do you seek in a pen pal? Preferably, a fondness for writing, though, as evidenced by my responses, writing in complete sentences is not required. If my correspondents do not like to write, then drawings or other two dimensional means of communicating would be acceptable, and, perhaps, even desired. I could use a paper napkin or two with some artistic–or even-not-so-artistic scribbles on them. I would find beauty in them, anyway. Or at least, if not beauty, then something to ponder–some intriguing insight into the person who created them. I suppose, the rare three-dimensional object of communication would meet with approval, too, especially if that three-dimensional object happened to be an apple pie.

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Do you have a desire to meet your pen pal face-to-face? Heavens, no! This is called “pen” pal, not “face” pal!

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Please describe, in as much detail as possible, your reason for wanting to join the pen pal project: Was a time when folks wrote to each other, long, detailed letters sharing all the little elements that make up a life–the shape of clouds. The taste of wind. The songs of mockingbirds. The bubbling sound of beef stew simmering on the stove. And more than these little details, folks shared thought, feelings, insights, questions, confusions, and resolutions.

How did we come to stop sharing our inmost thoughts with each other?

I can’t do this in a text, or even in a long conversation on the phone.

Magic happens when two people write to each other the words forming in their brains, those words that can travel only through a pen or through fingers on a keyboard.

Think of Elizabeth Bishop’s letters to Robert Lowell. Or Thoreau’s letters to Margaret Fuller. Or Clara Schumann’s correspondence with Johannes Brahms.

For decades, I’ve been bemoaning the forgotten art of correspondence. The time has come for me to stop bemoaning and start acting.

I write not for posterity, but for the present moment: for the quickening of thought and pulse with another sentient being. Words change us. And I want to change and be changed.

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After you have reviewed your application and made any necessary revisions or corrections, please click “Submit.” Only click once. Do not click “Refresh” or the back button on your browser.

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The Pen Pal Project will notify you by email within ten days of any suitable correspondents we find for you.

Thank you for your wishes to participate in this project, and happy writing!

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Author’s note: What’s this? It’s a new collaborative project, The Pen Pal Project! Want to take part? If so, check out the Forum thread or drop me a comment here!

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