‘Our hopes lie in a time of alliances’

Epistolary praxis and transdisciplinary composing, by Rachel Epp Buller and Derek Owens


An earnest letter is or should be life-warrant or death-warrant, for what is each instant but a gun, harmless because “unloaded,” but that touched “goes off”?

— Emily Dickinson, letter to L. Norcross, 1880


In Muriel Barbery’s The Life of Elves, a mythical story of a world in danger, separate factions unite their interests in the belief that “our hopes lie in a time of alliances.” We, too, seek out alliances. We come from established backgrounds in writing and art history, yet at mid-career we both returned to graduate school, seeking out new peers in a transdisciplinary creative practice program. We found that working across disciplines offered fertile ground for our own practices while opening up new ways of being and thinking. Our intermedial experimentations and collaborations led us to the letter form. What follows is an edited version of our recent epistolary exchanges–an extended, sometimes meandering, hybrid meditation on how historical and contemporary forms of written interpersonal communication might act as a bridge between disciplines and, at the same time, embody a human desire for love and support.



Fig. 1 – Stamps found at a flea market


I’m drawn to the dispatch – letters sent and received across boundaries. Email and texting seems the closest technology has gotten to telepathy so far: one hits <send> and in seconds someone across the globe hears that person’s voice in their head. But there’s something about the old school, snail mail, back-in-the-day methods. The epistolary seems to construct—fashion—time, as if the days or weeks or months between the sealing of the envelope are only fully realized when the receiver opens it from miles away. Closure gets introduced into that stretching of time. Certain subtleties around longing, the need to connect, are enacted, in part because of the delay in transmission, that gap the writer seeks to traverse. But there are no gaps in cyberspace. Everything appears constantly, it’s all so digitally compressed—all those billions of emails piling up, weighing down on the ones that came before. One has to constantly dig down into the e-aether just to remember what came before (but who has time?). In contrast, a paper letter, sent across miles and coming to land in one’s hand, seems a feather by comparison.


(yes, this needs to be a mixture; while a conventional way of capturing this correspondence would be the back and forth volley of the letters, I rather like the hybrid nature of some third conjoined, conglomerate concoction created from this exchange, disrupting the whole notion of the solitary writer/artist…)


For me, what distinguishes the handwritten letter (the passed note in class, for that matter) is its physicality. I find such an appeal to holding the object, and then of course there is the sheer delight in seeing someone’s personality conveyed through their script–learning to know and recognize someone through the shapes of their script. And, the materiality means that the letter can be read again and again–treasured, or agonized over, or passed on through generations as an ancestral memento.


Fig. 2: Derek Owens, correspondence fragment, handmade paper, 2017



You and I are both intrigued with the reception of messages “across the waves.” Letters you have from ancestors, filled with moments and sparkles that demand reconstituting in your own makings. The presence of language, obscured, in some of your handmade books. Pages as palimpsests. But a lot of the pages blank, too, as if still waiting for letters and voices from somewhere to arrive, and land. And there’s your attentiveness to Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems. Maybe it’s been written about but if so I’ve not seen it yet—but the idea of her writing on the exterior of those envelopes inverts and subverts the flow. These are envelopes she or her family received from elsewhere, and here she is writing on the backs and flaps. Which sort of makes her notes and scraps addresses, of a sort, as if she were composing for two audiences: maintaining, obsessively, rich, deep relationships with friends and family; but also the poems sent “out there” which, she must have known, were out of whack with her time, and so delivered into an as of yet unrealized world of potential readers.


Fig. 3 – Flea market post card: “Dear Hope… Please write soon.”


I recently mentioned Miwon Kwon’s One Place after Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. Some of the larger context might expand your thinking.

a possibility of renewal

a chance to share

a fragile truce

These were phrases that, Kwon reports, Felix Gonzalez-Torres wrote on the back of a photograph that he sent to some friends, upon revisiting Los Angeles years after his partner’s passing. I wonder if he collected these phrases from elsewhere or wrote them off the cuff? If it was sent in postcard form, I imagine a postal carrier delivering it and happening to see the text, even if unintentionally, and feeling that sense of longing that Gonzalez-Torres conjures through the words. Kwon says that the words provoke in her “an uneasy sense of distance and proximity, of voyeurism and identification.”

You mention a desire to connect to an audience: I think that the cultural trope of the solitary artist creating in the studio is (in addition to being rather mythical and unrealistic / exclusionary for many artists) such an unhelpful conception. Because what most of us are trying to do, fundamentally, I believe, is reach out to, and communicate with, our fellow beings. Why would we ever exhibit work if not to try to make that connection across time and space? And yet, what a vulnerable thing to do–call out to strangers passing by and ask for connection, risking judgment or rejection or, perhaps even worse, complete indifference. It certainly makes me understand why some artists choose never to show the work that they make.

I wonder about the differences between artists and writers, in this respect. As you note, Dickinson may have been writing into the ether (kind of a tragic thought, to my mind!), where most artists at least get to show their work and receive the personal feedback, good or bad. Is this why some poets seek out poetry readings? How do other writers ever get over the anonymity of the audience to whom they’re communicating?

But Dickinson’s letters: I think there’s much to the longing for connection, among artists and writers, that can be encapsulated by letter-writing. In times when letter-writing was a weekly ritual, so much of it, perhaps necessarily, consisted of mundane observations or reporting on day-to-day existence. And yet in between those recitations, there were often little nuggets of something more—an idea offered, or a question posed, or a passing observation that hinted at something much deeper. (In a way, it’s similar to how I view your frequent use of parentheses, where so often your parenthetical asides seem to hold the most provocative ideas.)


The melancholic nature of letters and connection reminds me of a duet by Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, “Please Read the Letter,” on their Raising Sand album. The repetition of the title phrase, and the song as a whole, captures the longing, or even the pleading nature, begging for true connection, that can be implicit in the letter form.

Words have such a staying power. I often find that words or phrases stay with me over the years—whether from books or conversations (written or verbal) —and that I go back to read passages of emails or letters or novels that, years later, still feel profound in some way. Surely I’m not alone in this?



Fig. 4 – Rachel Epp Buller, correspondence fragment, postcard, 2017



This afternoon that Miwon Kwon quote you brought my attention to kept running through my mind: “Is it possible to miss someone that one never met, to feel the loss of something one never had?” And her answer to her own question was yes, we do, all the time.

(Which is hardly the same as missing the real, bona fide, flesh-and-blood someone no longer there, gone. Whether human, or animal.) That’s a different kind of un/bearable ache, isn’t it, a most acute bodily hurt, lingering perpetually, on fire. That missing of the friend or lover or parent or child no longer there, it is a cut that cannot scab over, not in my experience anyway, but which, I suppose, the body attempts to reorganize itself around. A perforation one has little choice but to live with.

On a fairly primal level, I wonder if that’s what’s happening when one writes or makes art with no explicit audience there to receive. To what extent is an unfulfilled desire to connect to an audience out there—whether in the past, future, or present—an audience one must be resigned to never meet or know—a motivating principle, or condition of the creative act.

I think of Dickinson’s “Master” letters, the theory that they were constructions unintended for any living individual. Might there be a hint of madness to that—of writing for the one(s) you won’t ever get to know? And is this a necessary ingredient for so much art making? Does it even matter?



Fig. 5 – Facsimile of a letter, found at a flea market



I just finished reading I Send You this Cadmium Red and enjoyed it, but found parts vaguely unnerving, as if I was at once peering into an intimate, private conversation. Made me feel a tad voyeuristic—but also, I kept getting the impression that the two of them were quite conscious that this was eventually going to be shared with others. But then, maybe a lot of letter writing is composed with the sense of some invisible person peeking over one’s shoulder. With postcards, certainly, which are semi-public, open to the light and exposed.


[Yes–I think Berger and Christie were pretty self-conscious about theirs being an eventually public exchange—one of them asked, after all, “What should our next project be?” and the other responded with, “Send me a color.” So I’m not particularly put off by that dynamic in their writing. Interesting that you prefer their quote-filled letters; I tended to skim parts of those, more drawn to what they had to say about the quotes, interspersed with glimpses of their social exchanges.]


In an 1870 letter Emily Dickinson includes a smushed bug:

“Fly from Emily’s window for Loo. Botanical name unknown.”


Paris Review: Is writing easy for you? Does it flow smoothly?

Robert Stone: It’s goddamn hard. Nobody really cares whether you do it or not. You have to make yourself do it. I’m very lazy and I suffer as a result. Of course, when it’s going well there’s nothing in the world like it. But it’s also very lonely. If you do something you’re really pleased with, you’re in the crazy position of being exhilarated all by yourself…

I think the inevitable loneliness that many writer/artists feel might amplify this desire, or need, to communicate with people one knows one will never meet—to construct that audience of peers within one’s imagination? Or to engage in conversations with past ancestors, real or imagined, as well as project into the future. To what extent might this impulse to connect across the gaps be a primal motivating force? In this way might all novels, paintings, tapestries, and art objects double as letters of sorts?


Engaging in conversations with past ancestors, real or imagined— this seems rather relevant to what I’m doing these days. It also reminds me of the work Miriam Schapiro was doing in the 1970s. As part of the Feminist Art Movement, she very intentionally “collaborated” with women artists of the past—partly as a way to imagine that conversation, but also as an activist gesture—naming and giving public visibility to those women whose work was so often written out of art’s histories, or at the very least considered in an entirely different, and often lesser, light than those of their male peers.


When I think about the book I wrote about my mother, what strikes me even more than the survival narrative is how those notes she wrote when she was a child, and hid throughout the house behind picture frames, remained dormant for decades only to literally drop into her hands in her fifties. Such epistolary detritus can have a longer shelf life than one realizes.

I told you what an impact Susan Howe had on me when she visited my graduate course, and mentioned how her methodology was to work through historical artifacts, but operating as a sieve. This was when she was still relatively early in her career; Articulation of Sound Forms in Time had just come out and My Emily Dickinson too. Echoes here too why I’ve been intrigued with the work of Hannah Weiner, who heard, and saw even (in textures and animal fur no less) voices and words in the air that infiltrated her writing, in mid-sentence, mid-word even. In between lines, spilling into margins.


I read this exchange recently and thought of you. I love the tone of this letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse, how much it mirrors some of the blog post and email exchanges that we have going—and of course it underscores that even artists who make it “big” deal with the same exact insecurities and uncertainties related to the directions of their work, and how important the crit group support is for all of us….


Dear Eva,

It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just


….Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you — draw & paint your fear & anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end.” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to


I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work — the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell — you are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working — then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to


….Much love to you both.



(Each of those “DOs” drawn in enormous capitals and centered at the bottom of each page, like flashing beacons.)


The zinnia seeds started sprouting in the paper pulp. Would you plant it if I sent you some?


I’m particularly interested in the relationship of the letter to space—how for the letter to exist there has to be a physical span that gets traversed. The epistolary then sort of creates that distance, amplifying it even (the postmark on the envelope a kind of official verification of the distance travelled) while at the same time flattening the distance. So different from email and texting, which are more like little zaps beamed directly into the reader’s eye. And since I’m running through different modes, Skype always has a kind of retro SciFi feel to it for me, as the earliest images I recall seeing of that kind of exchange were movies where somebody (a dad usually) is in space communicating across light years to his family back home. Skyping always makes me feel vaguely like an astronaut.

What other forms? Notes, like those passed in class. In Just Girls, Meg Finders explores the literacies of junior high school girls—her ethnographic research included looking at yearbook notes, and even extended to her going to slumber parties!


Fig. 6 – Flea market post card from “Babe”: “the pool didn’t have any orange peels in it”



Postcards: little windows floating in the mail. There are writers who intentionally allow the pages of their texts to be scattered and unbound. I have this “book” by Robert Grenier, Sentences Toward Birds. It’s a bunch of white cards, each with a very few words (Grenier being a master minimalist) in a beige envelope. None of them numbered, and so no correct order. I like to think of postcards as pages from some infinitely larger unbound book “published” by the postal service, one that all can contribute to but which will never be assembled.


I just re-read the essay you sent a while back about Frances Stark’s work:

“All writing to be read by someone else is a kind of letter. One person writing to another. From me to you.”

“When composing a love letter, one can agonize over the slightest turn of phrase, and the agony is a delicious one….In a love letter you have that agony that derives from a yearning to be as precise as possible, using the humbling materials of beautiful language.”

The idea that this artist is not only writing letters, but writing love letters, to her community (or to all of us?), partly because she weaves together writing, literature, art historical references, and visual art, is very compelling to me.

Could we understand transdisciplinary composing as a kind of love letter? Is it, in part, about love? Love of learning, of media, of language, of connecting with other people? It reminds me of how you articulated collage in that exhibition catalogue, as a love of objects. And it also relates, I think, to what you’ve said about isolating yourself in the studio and yet still speaking to a small group of people, of carefully selecting relationships.


You’re right, the image on the postcard for most is probably the main focus—but sometimes the backstage note on the reverse contains its own mundane mystery: the weather here is rainy, I picked up some oranges; have you heard from Georgette? Sometimes there’s a curious note, like the postcard I have of a house where the writer referred to a series of robberies that took place there.


Fig. 7 – Flea market post card



It’s often remarked how the immediacy of email and texting too often results in overly emotional responses that might not otherwise have been sent had the writer been forced to think through her thoughts while putting pen to paper, and taken the time to contemplate, and perhaps revise (or toss out entirely) the letter. But I’m wondering if backintheday letter writing was really much different–maybe the opinions were simply more artfully composed.

Dickinson was not one to refrain from scolding others for lapses in their letter writing, or for writing too little. An 1880 letter to Mrs. E. Tuckerman:

“I read your little letter. It had, like bliss, the minute length. It were dearer had you protracted it; but the sparrow must not propound his crumb.”

Ouch! And then, to read the brilliantly expressed anger in her famous rebuke to Thomas Wentworth Higginson in 1866, expressing frustration at the butchered (not to mention unauthorized) publication of a poem: “I had told you I did not print.”

Perhaps the ceremonial nature of much letter writing can’t help but amplify expressions of admiration and love in ways largely unavailable in other discourse. William Blake in 1800 to John Flaxman: “My Dearest Friend, It is to you I owe All my present Happiness. It is to you I owe perhaps the Principal Happiness of my life.” And several weeks later another: “You, O Dear Flaxman, are a Sublime Archangel, My Friend and Companion from Eternity; in the Divine bosom in our Dwelling place.” A bit drippy, no?

And if letters are a catalyst for conveying love across distance, they serve equally to convey anger, contempt, and hurt. Charles Olson to Edward Dahlberg near the end of their correspondence:

“God damn you really. You make it such a shame that I ever accepted anything from you. Why do you have to do this sad man? Why do you have to paw over everything until the other person can’t even retain what they valued? What a destruction. —I don’t really want my life if it is to be confused by you as pathetic and monstrous as your own. If it is to you, I say go aside, go aside. Leave what was…”



One thing that I think distinguishes the postcard from the letter, in most of my experience, is that the postcard is a token gift in the way that the letter is not. We won’t buy gifts for every one of our friends while on vacation, but sending a postcard with some scenic view offers a small memento, with the added bonus that it includes at least a few personal lines on the verso.

So maybe “love” is too nebulous or vague for this context? An act of care, then? I’m thinking a lot these days about relations of care and the possibly radical connotations that care might entail in the 21st century. I know that the term “attunement” is most often discussed in Anthropocenic discourses in terms of the more-than-human, but I think so much of letter-writing is about attunement with another person: paying careful attention, reading in between the lines, seeking to really understand. And if we can assume that the serious correspondences of our lives are with people for whom we care deeply, then the personal handwritten letter becomes a form of seeking attunement. And how might that romantic, possibly nostalgia-laden, act become a means by which to re-establish powerful human connections, to offer and receive care, in an age when our world so badly needs it?

And the fact that we save letters from certain loved ones speaks to a lifetime of powerful relationships. I do wonder a bit about our propensity to save letters (in a way that I, at least, don’t do with postcards, at least not after a time of displaying them): for whom are we archiving these relations? An archive to what end? To re-read in old age? To mark that we lived and loved?

And then of course it brings me back around to the flea market, where for pocket change we might purchase some historic letter, simply because it evokes another time and prompts us to imagine the sender and receiver and the narrative passing between them. So maybe we’re creating letter archives for future imagineers?


Fig. 8 – Letter found at flea market: “a friendly hello”



When a friend was here last week as a visiting artist, we spent an evening talking about all things letter and message, and she shared a couple of projects that were new to me:

A message to you“, by the artist couple that goes by Plan B: they archive their text messages to each other and then, after a year, those messages become durational performances. They choose outdoor spaces–one recent performance was at the old Tempelhof airfield in Berlin—and then they shout the messages back to each other across the open-air space. The private becomes public, the quiet becomes surprisingly loud, mundane messages become the “serious” matter of art. I wonder if this is akin to a performance of postcards? Maybe texts are the modern-day postcard. The shouting adds an uncomfortable element, to me. And yet these two are a couple, choosing to shout their messages. Holding themselves accountable, for some reason, to an unknown public? Or, more of an interest in blurring art/life boundaries? I’m just as interested in the location of their retelling; how does Tempelhof, for example, influence a viewer’s reception of their shouted messages?

The other project, Dear Data, is rather akin to the Berger-Christie exchange. Two information designers on either side of the Atlantic exchanged visualizations of data about their lives once a week in postcard form. A few things that stand out from their website reflections:

—that they became friends over the course of this exchange (that a handwritten exchange can facilitate deep social relations)

—that they’re particularly interested in a “slow data” transmission (rather than text, email, etc.); was it the anticipation of the postcards, as much as their eventual content, that facilitated this friendship?

—that “we argue we can use data to become more humane and to connect with ourselves and others at a deeper level.” (This idea of the more humane is what I was arguing toward in that essay on maternal relations in the Anthropocene—that perhaps the more humane is (must be?) a starting point before we jump to the more-than-human connections.)

Interesting that they’ve turned this into a school project of sorts, framing letter-writing as a teaching tool as well as an advocated form of interpersonal connection.


The appeal of texting isn’t just its immediacy but also the illusion of secrecy. It still seems to me like surreptitiously reading notes passed back and forth in junior high. When I’m with someone and my phone vibrates, I’m always self-conscious about reading the text in front of whomever I’m with; it seems as if it ought to be kept private and unseen, as if it were a folded-up note.

But the thing about texts, which goes for email too, is that they’re so easily forwarded and shared. In this way they’re always potentially public and distributable in ways that old school letters won’t ever be. This all seems so obvious now, what with hacked emails and “presidential” tweets constantly in the news. To message someone in a medium where that message can be instantly forwarded to anyone with a single click is to engage in a public discourse masquerading as something private. So, in some ways the artist couple who shout their texted conversations across an open space before an audience is pretty apropos (and, from the sounds of it, rather funny and in the tradition of various “loud talker” sketches and characters one finds in Seinfeld, SNL, Monty Python).

This both/and, or neither/nor quality of email and texting–even though I do both all the time, and probably far too much–brings with it, for me, a kind of anxiety. Neither seems private or personal or direct in the same way that a hand-sent letter/artifact does. There’s a formality to the sent letter—it requires labor, commitment, time—that can’t help but make it more of a self-conscious, measured, thought out activity. The immediacy of text and email too easily dispensing with that intermediary censor.


Fig. 9 – Flea Market post card: “I have been wondering what has become of you.”


It’s funny you mention the Dear Data project–two months ago one of my students showed me that book. She was drawn to it because she herself keeps a journal which is an art object in its own right, full of pages that visually echo some of what Lupi and Posavec are doing. I’m thinking now about why I warm immediately to their project whereas listening to people scream their texts at each other for hours across a football field doesn’t captivate me. I think it comes down to the care and craft and thought that the two women put into their projects and especially the execution, and then using old school methods of delivering them back and forth. Same with Berger and Christie’s Cadmium Red project. Even though these correspondences were clearly being conducted with the intent of publishing them for a wider audience, I’m attracted to these dialogues because of the materiality, the rarity, of the physical objects delivered across time and space. I suppose I can’t help being drawn to paper and objects.

So, absolutely, the postcard, the letter, as tokens, and very much part of a gift exchange. Maybe I’m romanticizing the impact of the handwritten or typed message, but I can’t help but think that that act, of bringing the hand into play, and taking time to think about the written object, serves as a kind of catalyst unattainable with most instantaneous digital correspondence. (But then, catalyst for what, exactly?)



Fig. 10 – Rachel Epp Buller, correspondence fragment, handmade paper and seeds, 2017



(Oh, I forgot to tell you–your zinnia seeds are in the garden, along with a scattering of red poppy and hollyhock seeds. Fingers crossed that they won’t get too bullied by the Long Island weeds while we’re in Berlin…)


The irony of writing letters—the act simultaneously underscores the distance between the two in dialogue, while diminishing that gap through written contact—is echoed in Dickinson’s frequent questioning aloud as to the location of the departed. In an 1882 letter to L. and F. Norcross she reflects upon where her dead mother might have gone:

“I have answered a few inquiries of love, but written little intuitively. She was scarcely the aunt you knew. The great mission of pain had been ratified–cultivated to tenderness by persistent sorrow, so that a larger mother died than had she died before. There was no earthly parting. She slipped from our fingers like a flake gathered by the wind, and is now part of the drift called ‘the infinite.’

We don’t know where she is, though so many tell us.

… Remembrance–mighty word”

That same year, to James D. Clark:

“A letter always seemed to me like Immortality, for is it not the mind alone, without corporeal friend?”


But whether it’s a handwritten letter, or a text, or an email, what stands out most of all to me is this need for contact, and connection. You’d think it wouldn’t be so acute. We’re both academics; we spend a great deal of our time talking and listening to students, collaborating and corresponding with colleagues on our research, not to mention the dozens of emails sprouting daily in our inboxes. Yet despite all this (or maybe, in part, because of that constant, seamless, 24/7 flow of digital messages), we both feel a need to engage, and correspond, in a different form. To find company in each other’s thinking, slowed down through the act of composing letters. It speaks to how crucial the call and response can be, and for artists especially.

I’m struck too by the ways this exchange of ours has fed our own art-making in subtle and not so subtle ways. As we’ve corresponded, certain echoes in our work rise to the surface: time travel, cross-generational voice transmissions, channeling. Consider how much of our individual writing and reflecting and art-making owes a debt to that listening to one another. To what degree did these communiques help unearth, and foster all that?


Yes, there’s been a remarkable cross-fertilization between our written exchanges and each of our practices. And yet I think we both believe that it’s about so much more than just our individual work, or our shared exchange. These letters, historical and contemporary, speak to a particular way of being in the world. They allow us to build bridges and to share ideas across disciplines, to challenge and inspire each other. And, fundamentally, they underscore a human desire to seek deeper connection through offering vulnerability and support. These handwritten notes embody acts of care. What better way for us to find hope and seek out alliances?



Works Cited

A Message to You.” Plan B–Belasco & New.

Barbery, Muriel. The Life of Elves, translated by Alison Anderson. New York: Europa Editions, 2015.

Berardini, Andrew. “The Letter Writer, Frances Stark.” Mousse 26, Winter 2010.

Christensen, Paul, ed, In Love, in Sorrow: the Complete Correspondence of Charles Olson and Edward Dahlberg. NY: Paragon, 1990: 226.

Dickinson, Emily. Selected Letters. Ed. Thomas H. Johnson. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1986.

Howe, Susan. Articulations of Sound Forms in Time. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1987.

—. My Emily Dickinson. NY: New Directions, 2007.

Finders, Margaret. Just Girls: Hidden Literacies and Life in Junior High. [Location?] Teachers College Press, 1997.

Keynes, Geoffrey, ed. The Letters of William Blake. NY: Macmillan, 1956: 51.

Kwon, Miwon. “The Becoming of a Work of Art: FGT and a Possibility of Renewal, a Chance to Share, a Fragile Truce.” In Julie Ault, ed., 2nd edition. New York and Göttingen: Steidl, 2016, pp.281-314.

Lupi, Gioria, and Stefanie Posavec. Dear Data.

Owens, Derek. Memory’s Wake. NY: Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2011.

Popova, Maria. “Do: Sol LeWitt’s Electrifying Letter of Advice on Self-Doubt, Overcoming Creative Block, and Being an Artist.” Brainpickings.



Dr. Derek Owens is Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center at St. John’s University. His publications include Memory’s Wake (Spuyten Duyvil), Composition and Sustainability: Teaching for a Threatened Generation (NCTE Press), and Resisting Writings (and the Boundaries of Composition), Southern Methodist University Press. Information on his art, writing, and teaching can be found at derekowens.net.

Dr. Rachel Epp Buller is a feminist art historian, printmaker, book artist, professor, and mother of three, whose art and scholarship often speak to these intersections. Her writings on art and the maternal include Reconciling Art and Mothering (Ashgate / Routledge) and the forthcoming Inappropriate Bodies: Art, Design, and Maternity (Demeter). She seeks out artistic and literary collaborations, and her current creative work explores letter-writing as a radical act of care and listening across time. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a board member of the National Women’s Caucus for Art (US), a regional coordinator of the international Feminist Art Project, and current Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Design at Bethel College (US).

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