New York City, October 6th, 2009
Dear Miss Dennings,
I hope you don't mind me writing you at your home address. A friend in publishing gave it to me. This is much more than simple fan mail, so I had to make sure it reached you directly. My name is Simon Bernay. You have probably heard of me. Most people in New York have. But this letter isn't about me, it's about you and the poetry that you write.
I was first exposed to your work by an old girlfriend. She gave me your first volume of poetry as a gift, and I'll admit that I broke up with her over it. I kept the volume but left it on my bookshelf to gather dust until last fall. Do you remember when the power went out all over the Upper East Side? Well, I had nothing to entertain myself with, so I decided, on a whim, to investigate your poetry. I stayed up all night reading, something I never do. I went out and bought all the rest of your volumes of poetry the next day, and I've been a fan ever since.
I'm writing you today to express to you how your poetry has affected me. I am not what one would call a literature buff; I prefer to go out at night, to clubs, parties, charity events. I prefer the company of people over that of paper and ink. And yet, your poetry remains the exception. I've spent the last year completely enamored of it, and at the same time, at a loss to explain why. All I really know is that when I read your words, something stirs inside me. They make me want to do something, to be something, but I don't know what that something is. It's a disturbing feeling that I suppose the masochistic side of me enjoys.
I wonder sometimes who the person is that writes these works of art. The jacket of your book says that "she lives in New York City with her cat, Thor." There's nothing more, no picture, no indication of personality. I wonder if you might write to me, and tell me more about yourself. I assure you that I am not insane, a stalker, a psychopath, or anything else that'd make you hesitate. Please write, and share some more of your beautiful words.
New York City, October 10th, 2009
Generally, if one doesn't put an extensive or witty "About the Author" at the end of one's writing, one either doesn't feel like one's personality might "shine through" a "blurb" to one's satisfaction, or one would rather not be contacted by "fans" "enamored of" one's work.
Luckily (or I say "luckily"; maybe your writing to me was a passing whim, and you won't care for a response at all) for you, it is the former, not the latter, and I am merely perplexed that anyone would want to hear from me when they have all four volumes of my work. I don't mean to come off as stuck-up about my writing—no, I'm just as anxious to dissect all my criticisms first and then skim and dismiss my praise, just like the next insecure nail-biter—I just feel like my poetry is much more of who I am and what I feel and what I should be, really, than any word sewage sure to come out of my figurative "mouth" when I write this to you, as a person, and not a jumble of confused metaphor.
I see from the third paragraph of your letter that we're opposites. I tend to avoid clubs, parties, and most charity events—crowds make me anxious—and you appear to be drawn by them. I've always been fascinated by people different from myself. I find that I am, for instance, insatiably curious why my book of poetry led to you breaking up with the girl who gave it to you. I find myself curious who that girl is, and why she would think you'd be…thankful for, or "enamored of," or helped by my poetry. What was she thinking? What were you thinking?
Not that it's any of my business. But I've found that people are usually more eager to talk about themselves than they are willing to listen—that's not meant to be any slight against you, of course, as I don't know you at all—and so I hope that stands with you, in this case.
By the way. Ironically enough, the one sliver of "who I am" you have is a falsity. I don't really have the time or inclination to take care of a cat, you see, but the publishers insisted I have something "human" or "quirky" that might give my readers a "glimpse," and little purring Thor was the product. I hope this letter has soothed any bristles that little white lie created, and that it satisfied your craving for more of my "beautiful words." Unlikely, but here's to hoping.
New York City, October 12th, 2009
Dear Miss Dennings,
I must address, first, the issue of the girl who gave me your book and our subsequent break-up. I can't speak for her, or explain why she thought I would benefit from it. I don't believe I've given any indication to anyone that I'm the poetry-reading type. In retrospect, perhaps she saw something about me that no one else had before. I do, after all, love your poetry and yours alone. (I've never been able to get into anything else—Dickinson, Poe, Emerson, they all lose me. Any recommendations?) At the time I was disgusted by her gift. "Poetry!" I thought. I assumed she was all wrong for me and immediately kicked her out. You may think this harsh but I see no reason to let people down gently. Better they know the truth and know it immediately.
As for the matter of us being opposites, I find that hard to believe. In spite of my fear that you'll think me stark-raving mad, I'll confess that I wake up every morning to read a poem of yours, mutter your words to myself throughout the day, and can't sleep until I've read that last poem from your third volume. It's my favorite. How could we be so different, if your words alone have such an effect on me? If you knew me, you'd be amazed by my obsession. I pride myself on keeping a strict reign on my thoughts, emotions, and actions. You make me break all my own rules. I do sound stark-raving mad, don't I? Excuse me.
Regarding the imaginary cat, I have only one question: why the name Thor?
I wish you would tell me more about yourself. You seem to have skillfully avoided doing that in your letter. Why don't you ever do any book signings, or tours?
Speaking of which, if I sent you my copies of your books, would you sign them for me?
I suppose I should have told you more about myself before demanding a history of you. Then again, do you wish to know more about me or are you wishing I'd stop pestering you? If that's the case, only tell me if you'll sign my books and then I'll leave you alone.
New York City, October 16th, 2009
It is amusing to me, in a way, that you kicked Dickinson, Poe, and Emerson to the curb, since you speak so much like them. Maybe you learned more from your attempts to read than you first thought? But maybe you're not aware, so I won't make fun of you. Until we're better acquainted.
Recommendations. Hmm. My most recent favorite might have to be Paul Muldoon. He and Stephen Colbert (on Comedy Central; I don't know if you watch television as religiously as I do or not) read his poem "Tea" on The Colbert Report back in June, allegedly making "Tea" the number one poem in America. It's delightful. He's delightful. Though I can't say my poetry is in any way comparable, so maybe you won't like it after all.
"Perhaps she saw something about me that no one else had before." I might not be the most romantic person, as you may have gleaned from reading my work, but a girl like that…she seems like someone worth keeping. I don't know her at all, of course—maybe she was just a blip on your radar screen, and I'm zeroing in on her because she's all I know of you, and because she connected you with my work—but if it was all just a misunderstanding…is there any way you'd take one another back, if she knew what she'd inadvertently done for you, and forgave you for being callous? Or do you still think she's all wrong? My, I'm becoming invested in something that's not only none of my business, but wholly unrelated to my life. In fact, if you didn't reply, I'm sure I'd never hear of it again. I'm also sure it'd always nag at me, so if you could do me this one favor and just let me know…
I won't commit you to the sanatorium quite yet. Although I have to admit, reading the line "regarding your imaginary cat" after "I do sound stark-raving mad, don't I?" had me giggling for longer than I have laughed in a while.
Your reading sounds much like my writing. Should I tell you a story about your favorite poem of mine? I'd been to the aquarium that day, for a charity event, and spent almost an entire hour seated in front of the giant jellyfish tank. Mind, it wasn't exactly my choice; I was left there. But I'm not sure it even registered that I was being forced to look at them. They were so unaffected by me, or the grubby little hands pressing against the glass, or even the little boy who insisted on knocking on it. They just kind of glubbed on in some sort of pattern, like a bee dance, eyeless, mouthless, senseless, for all I knew, with nothing to see or hear or taste or feel except the water and each others' tentacles. I'd like to go back someday, maybe write something else. I've heard a lot about how octopi can open jars.
I can't see any harm in signing your books for you. I'm up for anything that would improve someone's life, in however small a way. As for the reason why I don't go on book tours or signings, I…I suppose it's because I would always be dissatisfied. I wouldn't show it, but I would always feel disappointed by something—too few people, too many people not interested enough. Too many ignorant questions. A question I didn't answer sufficiently. I put on a façade of humility, but underneath, I just have too many expectations not to be humbled.
Please. Tell me more about you. The more I know, the broader my focus, and the fewer awkward questions I ask about times from which you've probably long moved on.
P.S. About Thor, that was all the publisher's doing. She mentioned something about a childhood cat that died from suffocating on the nipple of her little brother's baby bottle. However, if I were to name an animal, I would invariably call it "Means."
A/N: And so we begin. Rachelle was the one who came up with the plot line - she told me a few weeks/months ago (I'm her beta-reader, so she tells me plot ideas) about a [character trait I won't divulge] man named Simon who writes letters to his favorite poet, a [character trait I won't divulge] woman named Tuesday. The idea for a collaboration came to us...oh...two days ago. Hahaha. And thus - The Romancing of Tuesday Dennings was born! I, Jules, write from the point of view of Tuesday, and Rachelle is the mind behind the wonderful Simon.
We're already pretty far along - we're writing like beasts, I tell you, uncannily-inspired beasts! - so we need your feedback soon, and in large amounts! Otherwise, we might head in a COMPLETELY WRONG DIRECTION (gasp!) or CONTINUE DOING SOMETHING WRONG (no, say it isn't so!). Or, you know. If we're doing something right, you can say that too. :)
Jules (on behalf of the ever-fantastic Rachelle, as well).