Dear Loneliness is an EX/POST Magazine production with the goal to write the longest letter in the world to fight loneliness. They are planning to break the Guinness world record letter length of 290 meters--three football fields’ or almost 1,000 sheets of A4 paper--together. They are currently open through fall/winter for submissions of traditional handwritten letters, artwork, poetry, videos, etc. on the theme of loneliness to include in the project.
This is such a timely and amazing project, I needed to know more, so I asked Editor-in-Chief Sarah Lao some question to find out. See my interview with Lao and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about EX/POST Magazine.
LAO: Founded in the summer of 2020, EX/POST is a nonprofit independent literary and arts journal. We seek to spotlight both the best art and writing the Internet can find and serve as a refuge for underrepresented voices, topics, and genres. We want both great art and reflections on such; we want to publish work at the forefront of today's trends, but we also want to break down the meaning of those trends to make the cutting edge of "high theory" accessible to all. More than anything, we want to be a home for timely, experimental, and most of all daring writing. Whether it's avant-garde theater, traditional poetry, a satire of the Oscars, or an essay on any of the above, we believe you have something valuable to say.
HOPKINSON: How/why was the Journal of Expressive Writing originally started?
LAO: Originally, our friend Carissa wanted to create a pen pal program that would connect lonely people while also recording statistics on loneliness, but since there are already some amazing pen pal networks out there, we decided to put a more artistic spin on the idea by compiling the world’s longest letter to loneliness and making an art exhibit out of it. We thought the idea of bridging isolation was more important than ever in 2020 due to COVID-19 and ongoing fights against police brutality, and we’ve been lucky to have some amazing organizations help us spread the word since then--there’s metaLAB @ Harvard, Made of Millions Foundation, Artists for Trauma, Harvard Economics Review, the Concordium and even the Literary Symposium Desk at IIM Ahmedabad in India, just to name a few, though I’m afraid the full list of individuals who have been kind enough to forward our information is too long to list here!
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
LAO: For EX/POST itself, we welcome readers and creators of all ages. Even though our masthead is quite young, we didn’t want to be a teen-exclusive publication, as we’ve never really believed in the boundaries between teen/adult or emerging/established. It’s the same story for Dear Loneliness--we want to collect letters from a truly representative cross-section of humanity, so people from all backgrounds are welcome to read and submit!
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
LAO: The sky’s the limit--we’ve gotten traditional handwritten letters, but also a good deal of art and poetry. Some people have submitted multi-part graphic illustrations, while others have sent in spoken word and video letters. Topic-wise, anything that expresses how you feel about loneliness fits us just fine!
HOPKINSON: Can letters include poetry, artwork, or comics?
LAO: Yes, absolutely! Many of our most popular letters featured on social media include artistic--it’s actually a bit of a challenge balancing message content with visual appeal when posting letters (only those with permission, of course) on our social media, since people swipe by so quickly.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
LAO: Well, for Dear Loneliness, this is surprising, but we’d like to maybe see more quarantine-specific work. We’ve gotten a few letters commenting on life cooped up at home or cut off from friends during COVID-19, but the vast majority of letters are about more long-standing frustrations and emotions people have had. Not that any letter is more or less valid than another, of course--we’re thrilled that we can be an outlet for people, and some of my favorite interactions to come from Dear Loneliness have been comforting strangers about the loneliness they’ve bottled up for so long in our DMs. It’s also interesting when people interpret loneliness differently from the usual sense to talk about the loneliness of a song ending when you’re wearing headphones, or the isolation of facing racial attacks.
For EX/POST, I’d love to see more visual poetry and underrepresented genres like spoken word, drama, screenplay, comics, etc. I love pieces that give the reader more than one direction to take in their reading, and I don’t think we’ve received any comics at all! We also have a soft spot for experimental work, so anything that’s interactive or pushes the bounds of the viewer/creator relationship is something I find personally fascinating.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
LAO: Many of our staff listed their favorites in the staff spotlight series we’ve been doing recently, so I’ll just list them some here--Middleground Magazine, SPAM Zine, Split Lip Magazine, the Adroit Journal, Half Mystic, (mac)ro (mic), Prolit Magazine, diode journal, Dialogist, Winter Tangerine, SIne Theta Magazine.
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with the EX/POST?
LAO: Our staff is just the kindest, most fun and supportive group of people to be around, and our work chats are honestly always popping with memes, song suggestions, and general chaotic energy. We try to repost any good news that’s happened to our staff and general community when we hear about it, and we like to think that we’re producing good work but not taking ourselves too seriously!
HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?
LAO: For Dear Loneliness, you can upload your letter here: https://www.dearloneliness.com/submit.
For EX/POST, our submissions for ISSUE II are reopening on September 1, and we recommend checking out https://www.expostmag.com/submit when that time comes for more information on how to submit. In the meantime, you can send any inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our first issue for inspiration!
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
LAO: Our email email@example.com is always a safe bet, but we’re very responsive on our IG and Twitter too!
DEAR LONELINESS DEADLINE: Ongoing until Fall/Winter
EX/POST Magazine re-opens for submissions on Sept. 1
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: traditional handwritten letters, artwork, poetry, videos, etc. on the theme of loneliness
SUBMISSION METHOD: Dear Loneliness via online form; EX/POST via email