Since I am a self-employed person, the IRS asks me to keep a mileage log listing my business travel: where I went, how far away it was, the people I met with when I got there. So here’s an ironic confession from a writer: every time I sit down to try to write an end-of-the-year holiday letter — something that because of my profession, you might assume I could easily pull oﬀ in the most clever and delightful fashion — it instead comes out sounding a little bit like my mileage log for the year.
So I’m playing with the form. And along those lines, I decided to try something out with a group of young teenage girls I had mentored as a writing group: I had them write year-end holiday letters for themselves, but in poetic form. I reminded them that we’ve talked about epistolary poems before, and encouraged them to remember the many other poetic tools and elements we’ve discussed: metaphor, alliteration, imagery, rhythm, wordplay, the sound quality of certain words.
Their resulting letter poems were engagingly successful, and each girl’s work was distinctively different. A couple of them chose to write in stanzas. One wrote in rhyme. Their tones varied from funny to retrospective.
And for at home, if you’re a “Santa family,” an option for younger kids would be to help them write their Santa letters using simple poetic elements.
Maybe I’ve ﬁnally discovered a way I can leave the mileage log in the car and craft a letter of my own that makes a more poetic imprint.