Okay, I have a confession. I’m addicted to these new(ish) online confessional culture projects (Postsecret, Six-word Memoirs, Mortified), where people (often anonymously) admit (often embarrassing) personal information that, not too long ago, would have only been revealed to a best friend after one too many glasses of pinot noir. I caught the fever about seven years ago when I discovered Found magazine on the shelf at Shaman Drum bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The cover of the magazine featured what appeared to be a senior prom photo from the 1970s, complete with awkward boy in tinted oversize glasses and girl with impressively feathered hair. Inside I found a slew of photocopied handwritten notes, love letters, post cards, photographs, all found by readers on street corners and alleys and dumpsters around the world. The little grocery shopping lists seemed particularly heartbreaking–one shopper made a note to buy a single red rose and also reminded himself to refill his Valium prescription. A love letter asked the recipient to check a box at the bottom of the page if he did, indeed, want to go to the prom with her and “get it on” afterwards in the backseat of his Camaro. I flipped through the pages of the magazine and imagined the lives of the people who had written these random notes (did the writer of the “prom” note ever receive a response? I imagined a girl in a bubblegum pink organza dress, waiting anxiously on the bench next to the doors of her high school gym, a wrist corsage bothering the skin of her arm, wondering why Bobby never returned the note to her locker like she’d asked). So much information about the lives behind these scraps of paper was conveyed in such a small amount of space, and I was reminded of Charles Simic’s quote about poetry, which states: “Little said, much meant, is what poetry is all about.” I did, indeed, feel as if I’d found a sort of poetry in Found Magazine.
Although Davy Rothbart, creator of Found Magazine, isn’t planning a trip to the UTA campus anytime soon, we can look forward to PostSecret creator Frank Warren, who is coming to the Bluebonnet Ballroom on November 11 at 7:00 pm. I’m looking forward to heartbreaking postcards with scribbled confessions on them and that sugary feeling I get in my veins when I get a glimpse into the private world of strangers. See you there!