As a response to the social isolation necessitated by this pandemic, we have started The Sandy Point Correspondence Club, a pen pal/book club that will hopefully generate some sorely needed connection through Willa Cather’s writing.

Here’s how it works: participants will select one work by Willa Cather, and then be matched with someone else reading that work. We will provide the pairs with one another’s names and addresses, and instruct one of them to start the correspondence by writing out their reaction to the selected work in a letter, sent via the USPS. When the other person receives that letter, he or she will respond to both the Cather work and their partner’s letter with another letter, again sent through the USPS. From there, we trust the pairs can determine for themselves how to proceed.

That the correspondence happens through physical letters is crucial. Not only does it allow people who are not comfortable with computers to participate, you can touch an actual letter and, at the moment, touch has taken on special importance.

We are particularly interested in connecting with undergraduates and residents of long-term care facilities, two groups whose lives have been especially disrupted by the need for social distancing, but we want everyone seeking stronger social connections to participate. The way we figure, that includes everyone right now, so please consider joining this club.

In terms of reading preferences, participants can request to correspond about any of Willa Cather’s works, but they should keep in mind that it might be difficult finding a partner for less commonly read ones. With that in mind, we encourage you to consider the novel O Pioneers!<>, the short story “A Wagner Matinee<>,” and the poem “Going Home (Burlington Route)<>.” We think these three works provide options for readers of all levels of interest and experience.

If you need materials, be it stamps, stationary, envelopes or whatever, let us know and we will do our best to supply them. As for the actual works by Cather, all are readily available via The Willa Cather Archive (<>), but we will try to provide physical copies when necessary

If you’re interested, please share your contact information and reading preferences with us at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>. We will acknowledge your message promptly, but it may take weeks, perhaps even months, to find you a partner, so please be patient—this is a brand new program, and it will take awhile to iron out the process.

We really hope you are safe and healthy and that you decide to join The Sandy Point Correspondence Club.

Todd Richardson (Goodrich Scholarship Program, University of Nebraska at Omaha) and Emily Rau (Willa Cather Archive, University of Nebraska at Lincoln)