Epistle is a poetic form that dates back to ancient Rome. The term comes from the Latin word epistola, which means letter. Thus, this poem is written in the form of a letter. It was used to express love, philosophy, religion and morality.
Most people who think of epistles think of the Bible. Many of the books in the New Testament are epistles, especially the Epistles of St. Paul. The poet Robert Burns also frequently wrote epistolary poetry, as have many others.
There are no meter or rhyme requirements for an epistle. Epistle is more a form of voice and persona. A poet can address their epistle to a real or imaginary person and express their views or take on the character of a different writer. The wonderful quality of an epistle is that it can be such a freeing form. The tone can be formal or use very personalized voices. The poems can be many pages long or as short as a post card.
Read the full article, with examples HERE.
Our challenge is to choose a character or characters from literary history: a fictional character or the person of a poet, author or artist, and write a poem in letter form (or a letter in poem form).
Eg. “My dear Heathcliff,
You may choose to write from one character to another, such as Heathcliff’s unread letter to Cathy before he absconded, which he might have left under a rock on the moor. What would he have said to her?
There is certainly a precedent for letter writing within literary circles. One immediately thinks of John Keats impassioned letters to Fanny Brawne, or Dylan Thomas's lyrical love letters to his wife, Caitlin.
The Epistle takes into account the voice of the writer and the identity of the receiver. All the rest is poetry.
This challenge may take some time and thought, but remember that the link will remain open for those who wish to add poems later in the week.