Letters addressed to Shawna, the wind, a binder clip and George Harrison line the wall of Gather. There are 27 total, and many are more than a page long.
The letters were made two weeks ago at a community love letter writing event. A small crowd gathered Friday to admire the poems and share theirs. The letters are on display for the rest of the month at Gather, a gift shop on North Walnut Street.
Gather owner Talia Halliday said her idea for the display came to her when she visited a New York City shop. Halliday said she thought filling the wall with words instead of images would be interesting. She said she wanted to start with a Valentine’s Day theme.
“We’ve all written a love letter,” Halliday said. “We show it to one person, but to show it to the public is making yourself vulnerable. It’s exciting, and it’s scary.”
Halliday said she wrote four of the letters. One of her letters, written on a typewriter, was addressed “To my dearest Nathan,” her partner.
“I’ve sat down time and time again to write this letter, to confess my love to you in a way I haven’t yet, to divulge my deepest darkest secrets, lust, affection, love to you,” Halliday’s letter began.
Lisa Kwong, a frequent customer and friend of Halliday’s, led the letter writing and reading events. Kwong is an adjunct lecturer at the Asian American Studies Program at IU.
Kwong showcased a handful of her own love letters and poems at the event Friday on subjects such as family, Asian food and her love for office supplies. Her letter to a binder clip hangs with the other letters on the wall in bright pink pen.
“You remind me of the need to be held,” her binder clip letter said. “To keep all that’s important in my life together.”
Hiromi Yoshida, a Monroe County Public Library tutor with Volunteers In Tutoring Adult Learners, also read Friday.
“Sharing a love poem is empowering,” Yoshida said. “But you’re so vulnerable. It’s like stripping in front of people.”
One of her poems was about a patron at a strip club she waitressed for in her younger years.
Tonia Matthew, a Bloomington resident since 1968, said she came to the reading event because she knew both speakers. She said she has a strong appreciation for spoken word.
“I just love it when writers get poetry off the page,” she said.
Halliday said she plans to do more showcases like this at her store in the future.
She asked Kwong to lead the events, she said, because she is a frequent customer and a friend. Kwong showed her support for the store Friday by purchasing a pink poster with a smiling marshmallow treat on it.
The poster’s theme was love. It said “Everything is s’more fun with you.”
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