Thursday, March 25, 2010

a love letter to an old book (penguin edition)

From the room next door, 

you smell like high ceiling-ed hallways

and wood thick rooms, 

but from here,
 you smell 
like a voice

against single paned 

window glass.

(The small mark on your spine,

curved near the top,
 a thumbprint,

my thumbprint, 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Love Lettering Project VI: a love letter for a Washington, DC oyster shucker

I love playing cupid-ninja in Toronto , dropping love letters along streets I walk on often, in the bathrooms of my favourite bunch spots and in laundromats that have seen countless loads of my dirty clothes, but dropping off love letters in cities that aren’t mine is positively gleeful.

One thing I love about this project is the anonymity of it – slipping love letters into books in a used bookstore and sneaking away. And to do it in a city where I don’t know very many people heightens this anonymity.

This February, I was wandering through a fish market in Washington D.C. with grit between my molars from the oyster that had been chucked by a man in a one-piece orange camo snowsuit. I think his name was John, or maybe Joe. He didn’t have any teeth and knew everyone in line, sliding his chucking knife around the edges of dirty shells and spiraling them open, six to a plate with a quarter of a lemon in the middle.

It was the second time I had ever had oysters and I was officially converted to the I Heart Oysters team.

There were bright flashing lights as if it was a carnival instead of a fish market late on a Saturday evening and the fish were stacked, gleaming, iridescent on ice. The clam chowder was piping hot in lidded Styrofoam bowls and I learned that tilapia, something I had only ever seen delicious on my plate, or in thin, frozen fillets, had black, black scales, the crow of the white fish family.

I bought a bag of shrimp, deciding I was brave enough to de-vein the little guys myself.

But the highlight of that fish market adventure was dropping a love letter at the second to last stall, right in front of the baby crabs, with their dusk-blue underbellies and slow moving legs. A love letter on the damp cement.

And then I ducked away as fast as possible. I didn’t want to see who found it. I just like hoping that someone did.

(Confession: Part of me hopes it was John, or Joe, the Oyster Man, who found it, though the chances are slim to middling. He probably had a pile of oysters to be chucked and a lineup that took over the chowder line.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Love Lettering Project VI takes on Calgary

Yippee-yi-yo! Last weekend, the Love Lettering Project VI travelled to Calgary, home of huge skies and oh so much sunshine.


I love you at the bottom of the hill

we used to toboggan on,

years of magic carpets

and swishy snowpants,

fingers numb and held in fists

as we marched back to the top,

but there is no snow now,

just you and me,

our knees touching on the splintered bench

we were always afraid of crashing into.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Library of Congress love

I love words. And I LOVE books. But when I was approached with the chance to visit the Library of Congress when I was down in Washington , D.C. , I was really reluctant to go.

It was a sunny Saturday and there was brunch to be had and streets to meander along, apple cider to sip and a market to find…forget some fancy-pants tourist site! But I went. And am so glad I let myself be persuaded.

I’m sure there are a million odes to this glorious, wondrous building, but I was truly blown away. It was stunning. There were poets’ names on the ceiling and the most beautiful stained glass. I just wanted to spin around and around until I got dizzy and fall in a heap of bookish adoration.

(my favourite Shakespeare quote...)

It was like a church for all things book. I got myself a reading pass so I could hang out in the reading room under this huge domed ceiling that reminded me of the Vatican with its domed ceilings and huge arched windows. Sigh. The building is a love letter to all things written and all things read. Just glorious.

The sun was setting and the light was long and long – just amazing and it was only fitting that I left some love letters on the front steps…

[photo from The Love Lettering Project VI, taken by Michael A. Jones]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Love Lettering Project VI takes on Halifax, N.S.

The Love Lettering Project VI went to the glorious town of Halifax, Nova Scotia this past weekend.

Salt bleached docks and a sun bright Atlantic. It was glorious...


With the edge of the water

burning, furious, impatient,

I love you when the season turns.


[from The Love Lettering Project VI]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

There are a lot of things I love about this love lettering project, but I’d have to say, my very favourite thing has been the number of first kiss stories people have started sharing with me. Not quite strangers, but definitely in the periphery of my social circle.

And almost everyone has framed it with ‘Oh, you’ve probably heard a million of these. You’re probably sick of them...’

But I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of hearing about people’s first kisses. They’re like finding pictures of folks you love at 13, all braces and gangly and wearing the most bizarre clothes (hellloooooo acid wash collared shirt with turquoise glasses!) – so endearingly awkward. I love reconciling the two – confident, fabulous friend with awkward basement corner couch kiss. LOVE!

CBC Radio's DNTO did a follow-up show on first kisses and breakups on Your DNTO and people called in with their first kiss stories. Swoon! I was in heaven.

Being told first kiss stories is like finding lucky pennies, and I can’t pass a penny on the sidewalk without picking it up. (I’ve even been known to stop my bike if I catch a glimpse of coppery luck!)

ps: the photo is from Valentine's Day in Washington, D.C. Cupid-brunching-photographer: Michael A. Jones.