TO GET A LETTER, SEND A LETTER: postcards from the Keep Writing Project

TO GET A LETTER, SEND A LETTER: postcards from the Keep Writing Project

Born in New Hampshire, Hope Amico took her letterpress skills toLouisiana State University for a degree in printmaking and started Gutwrench Press, an umbrella for her handmade books, as well as the Keep Writing Project, for which she sends out, every month, an interactive postcard to her mailing list: Amico fills in one side and includes, on the other, a prompt to be returned.

“I’ve always had a lot of pen pals, and I was moving from New Orleans, where I’d been living for six years, to go to school in Baton Rouge, and I knew it was going to be harder to keep in touch with people,” she said by phone, “so I started it then as a way to keep in touch with my friends. I would print one postcard a month to send to people I knew.”

It wasn’t long before people she didn’t know wanted to get involved. Now, about 150 people receive her monthly letterpress postcard, and she posts the responses on her blog.

Postcard 72

Postcard 72 (click to subscribe)

“When I was tabling, selling my handmade books and my prints, I started asking people if they would maybe be interested — I think I asked for a dollar for the first two months, or something — and a lot more people signed up than I thought would.”

A monthlong show featuring some of her favorites from the first five years, alongside some of the responses, opens Thursday at E.M. Wolfman Books in Oakland.

Examples include a before-and-after print of a haircut Amico gave herself; the other side was simply a “before” and “after” box in which people could respond. One friend drew in a Jawbreaker T-shirt in the “before” box, and a Jawbreaker onesie in the “after” box, to let Amico know they were having a baby. No. 68 was about Anita Hill and asked people about an important news event they remember that may have been forgotten. No. 72 says, “You’re doing a good job at life right now” and asked senders for words of encouragement for someone who might need them.

Postcard 68 (click for show info)

Postcard 68 (click for show info)

Amico has sent more than 50 postcards to the list since 2010, and is asking $30 a year to subscribe. At the party on Thursday, which features new music by Crimewave, snacks and the new postcard, the public will be able to participate in the project whether or not they’re subscribed. Throughout the month, Amico will be in the store on Saturdays from 1-3 p.m., writing letters and hoping you join her.

If you go

To Get a Letter, Send a Letter: Postcards from the Keep Writing Project: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 2. Free. E.M. Wolfman, 410 13th St., Oakland. (415) 250-5527.


This article originally appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle.