The PenPal Project

Getting a letter in the mail is one of my absolute favorite things. The world is intense and stressful right now, and there’s a lot we can’t do to fix it. One thing we can do is bring more tiny joys into each other’s lives. More community. More slowness. More appreciation. More of our deep and true selves.

The PenPal Project has two goals:

1. Community and joy. I get a letter! You get a letter!
You also get a handwritten original poem!

2. Supporting art directly, modestly, and at the source.
Helping to manifest an economy based on gifting,
and promoting valuation unmediated by price.

How does this work?

Write me a letter.

Step One

Include a gift of your choosing to support my poetry.

Step Two

Receive a letter, plus an original poem.

Step Three

Post the letter to:

Tara K. Shepersky
c/o The PenPal Project
PO Box 228
Lake Oswego, OR, USA 97034

Details & Questions

What do you want to hear about?
Whatever is on your heart and mind that you would like to share. I’m here to listen, witness, connect.

Tell me what gets you through the days. Share the thing about the pandemic that’s surprised or challenged you the most. Tell me what you’re reading. Tell me about the weather and the season where you are. The creative project or local political project or course of study that excites you. Whose music you’d set your favorite poem to. The weird hobby you’d take up if money was no object. The unexpected thing that brought you joy or grief today. The personality quirks you love about your city, region, local river, etc.

Will you write back if I’m posting from outside the US?
Absolutely. I love international mail. I have some lovely global “forever” stamps all ready to go.

I don’t use US Dollars. Can I send other currency?
Sure. Euros, Pounds, Yen, Canadian or Australian or New Zealand Dollars, whatever you use is fine; I can change it. (And foreign banknotes are extra cool!) Cash or check are both fine. Let’s keep this simple.

Can I seriously support you in any amount? What if I can’t give money, or I’m uncomfortable giving money?

Yes, any amount is fine. $1 is brilliant. $50 is brilliant.

If you don’t have spare money to give, that is okay too. Other folks will be able to gift money, and that supports poems for all.

If you prefer not to send money, you could gift me a book you loved, a poem you wrote, a weird and wonderful old photograph, a small stone from your local river. Etc.

Words are work, and they’re important. The good work we do in the world should be freely available to all. I want to give what I do as a gift. I also want to create opportunities for folks to value my art by gifting me.

The way most of our societies communicate value is money. I don’t agree that a particular service or item can or should have a price. It has value — but that is not necessarily expressed as a dollar amount. I think changing that language is a first step to a more equitable, more peaceful, more loving society.

Money isn’t going anywhere right now, but I think we can transition to thinking of it as a gift, not a payment. The PenPalProject aims to facilitate that paradigm shift.