July 8, 2012

Your Life: 13 Portraits of People I Don't Know from the Internet

Dear Reader,

I need your help to write 13 poems. In my mind, these currently unwritten poems are part of something tentatively called: Your Life: 13 Portraits of People I Don’t Know from the Internet. The idea is that I’m going to write 13 poems that are portraits of strangers, based on their answers to specific questions that I have written for them. I have made these questions into a poem—you’ll find it when you scroll down below, at the end of this letter. There are 26 questions, one for every letter of the English alphabet. This will likely be one section of a larger project I'm beginning to think about called, Every Stranger Is A Lover, Every Lover Is A Stranger, about love, intimacy, connection, and the internet. And here is how you can help me.

Please answer at least 13 of the questions (if not all of them), and send me your answers to my email address: adimitrov@gm.slc.edu by October 1, 2012. Please use this as the subject of your email: “Portrait of a Stranger” and please include both the questions and answers in your email.

Please use a pseudonym or nickname (think of it as a username) that I may use to refer to you as—likely I will use this name in the title of your poem. I will not use your real name. You don’t have to provide your real name if you don’t want to, but you can.

Some rules. Please participate only if:

1. We don’t know each other in real life.

2. We haven’t slept together.
3. We may be (but don’t necessarily need to be) Facebook friends, yet we don’t really know each other. Same goes for Twitter, we may or may not follow each other.
4. We may have (but don’t necessarily need to have) communicated online—somehow—yet we don’t really know each other.
5. You may, or may not, want us to sleep together.

Basically, you need to be somewhat of a stranger, even if, say, I know your name.

Please feel free to share this letter on whatever social media you use, if you’d like.

These poems may end up in journals. They may end up in a book or a project in the future. I don’t know. What I do know is that I will write them and do something with them.

I’ll also respond to every email I receive.

And what about the selection process—how will I choose the 13 strangers?

That’s a mystery. Although I'll try to use answers and lines from everyone who emails me in the larger project/book, Every Stranger Is A Lover, Every Lover Is A Stranger, even if I'm only writing 13 individual portrait poems.

Yours always,

Your Life: 26 Questions for 13 Portraits of People I Don’t Know from the Internet

What was the happiest time in your life?
Do you think you’ll ever be happier?
What do you want most while you’re here?
What do you want that this poem can’t give you?
When was the last time you cried in front of someone?
Is that person important to you?
Who do you miss most?
Are they living or dead?
How do you continue to talk to them?
What is the first thing you imagine when you think about death?
What wouldn’t you do for love?
How often do you hate sex?
Who is the first person you thought of this morning?
Who is the last person you thought of before bed last night?
What is your favorite time of day?
What is the most private secret you’re willing to share?
Do you think a poem of all questions is meaningless?
If you weren’t here right now where would you be?
Have you given up on your biggest dream?
What is the book that changed you for the first time?
Who would you like to go on a walk with tomorrow?
How much longer do you think you’ll live?
What is the dish you always order at your favorite restaurant?
Do you have a sweater that hugs you just right?
Who is the last person you want to talk to before you die?
How many times have you lied answering these questions?
Please send me your answers: adimitrov@gm.slc.edu

An Additional Note (July 12, 2012)

As I was reading your (many) responses late last night, until 2 a.m., I realized that in addition to the 13 portraits, I want to create poems that focus on just one question, say, "What was the happiest time in your life?" (that would be the title of one of these kinds of poems, for example) and the poem would consist of your responses to that question. Much like a collage of voices. Your responses are so beautiful that I want to use as many of them as I can. Please keep sending them to me. And please know that I will personally respond to every email I receive, although it may take me some time.

Forever yours,