It's a funny word, EPISTLE, but all it means (though I think: thistle, artichoke, epi-pen) is letter.
There's some thaw today, a single snowdrop gracing the garden among the gray grass and mealey mulch. I visited my daughter's school as part of an arts program--bring in a quality print (this is an amazing program--they have a vast circulating collection) and discuss a bit of art history, asking questions about the painting. Lucky me; it just happens to be the season for the Poetry Project, where you direct the class to write a collective poem about the painting. So much to think about! We directed our poem within the frame of an epistle: who do you want to ask about this painting? What questions do you have? What kind of action words might you use in your answers?
The resulting poem has a bit of a narrative. Never mind that the kids are six and seven years old; they're full of language and ideas, and within a half hour we had this:
Epistle: Renoir’s Dance at Bougival
Dear Mom and Dad,
What kind of dance are they
Ball dance, kissing dance, cha-cha, the waltz, step dance,
square dance, Macarena, rolling rumba, chicken.
What kind of drink are they
Apple juice, wine, orange juice, grape,
Cranberry, root beer, fruit punch, lemonade.
What kind of dress is she
White dress, dance dress, ballroom,
yellow sash, wedding dress, when?
What kind of thoughts are they
Love thoughts, valentine, snacktime, hungry,
happiness, honeymoon, puppy love, kids.
Mrs. Starace’s First Grade
So here's your assignment: find a work of art. Maybe it's a pillow on your living room couch (mass produced or hand woven, it's up to you to choose), maybe your new faucet has a post-modern design, or maybe you have a copy of Jansen's History of Art growing heavier with information on your bookshelf. Choose a work of art and write a letter about it--to your parents, your art teacher, to the woman in the frame. It's up to you. Have at it. (30 minutes. Use your listening ears and don't forget to raise your hand...)