How much longer until we start seeing “Save the Post Office” messages and petitions? I’m guessing within the year—there’s already a website by that name, devoted to “closures, consolidations, and suspensions.” When I was a kid we were constantly encouraged, both in and out of school, to find pen pals, and I can still remember some pretty epic runs of correspondence. They eventually petered out as we hit adolescence, but they definitely served their purpose—if only to prepare me to have a lot of friends I’ve never met in the year 2011. I’m predicting the idea of pen pals may roll around again before too long.
Assuming there still is a United States Postal Service come 2012, I think everyone could do their part to prop it up by ordering these poet stamps—classy, understated images of Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams. And they’re forever stamps, so when the price of a letter goes up to a dollar and becomes a vanity item, they’ll still be good. Alternately, if snail mail ceases to exist entirely, they’ll look pretty cool on your notebook.