Write and Romance Thee

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – June 16, 2005

You have risen me from the mines of my broodish depths, and the colour of life has taken on a brighter hue. To frame my feelings for you in words is to dull the luster of their intense and chaotic nature, and it implies an emotional order and structure that simply does not exist. How am I to capture in words the thrill I feel when you drape an opalescent leg over my own, or the wonder evoked when you laugh, or the admiration by which I am seized when your thoughtful, and often profound, insights are given voice? These are only instances of myriad emotions which constitute the answer to your ‘why do you love me?’

I’ve been lucky – all of my boyfriends have been way more romantic than I ever was. Take the above for example. That’s just a slice of a scrumptious two-pager in which he counted me thee ways. Call him traditional; he was a gentleman who pursued this woman with grace and eloquent missives. It didn’t hurt that he looked like a premier league soccer player either.

Yes, letter writing is a powerful tool to score the person you’re attracted to. It can move the most mysterious and budge the common and complacent. There’s something about a letter in your mailbox or a note shoved under your door. They’re tactile treats and the penmanship or scent and choice of the paper can inspire deep feelings and connection.

Unfortunately, modern technology such as e-mail and text messaging has replaced the art of wooful letter writing. But so has life itself these days. When’s the last time you took the time to pen some words to your beloved beyond the Post-it note on the fridge reminding them to throw out the trash? And how have you been trying to woo that dude you keep running into at the grocery store? With shots at the bar? Has the traditional art of courtship fallen by the wayside in favour of quick fixes, or worse – nothing?

There’s good news for Canadians in a new reality television series called The Letters … Rediscovering the Art of Courtship . It’s about letter writing and it starts production right here in Ottawa in August and addresses the question: Have we forgotten how to fall in love? GAPC Entertainment, which makes documentaries and television series, is producing this eight-part series due to air on Canadian Learning Television, Access Alberta, BookTV and Bravo!

“I came up with the idea because I am a romantic at heart,” says Hoda Elatawi, the producer of the show. Elatawi is now calling on Ottawa’s single and eligible Cyrano de Bergeracs and Roxannes (ages 25 to 35) to star in the show. Go to www.gapc.com and submit a simple questionnaire by June 20, 2005.

“We don’t want English lit majors necessarily, we want people who are romantics at heart and are willing to put their thoughts on paper,” Elatawi tells Shotgun.

Here’s how it works. Through a series of weekly journeys, each young man will set out to win the woman’s heart while learning the art of wooing. “In each episode they will have a task to accomplish and from that task they’ll be inspired to write their next correspondence,” Elatawi says. Also, the gents will be given hints about “Roxanne” and they’ll have to use their intuitiveness, creativity and romance to compose the “love” letters.

“The men will be doing their writing against the beautiful backdrop of the luxurious and gorgeous Brookstreet Resort,” Elatawi explains. It is not unlike the posh estate headquarters of other bigtime reality shows-Joe Millionaire comes to mind.

Will there be a love connection that leads to a wedding and chapel? “Who knows, but we want to inspire people to think about how to engage with another person in ways we used to and maybe don’t anymore,” Elatawi says.

Today’s on-the-go lifestyles choke our romantic souls, obsessions with appearance blind us to true inner beauty, and materialism has devalued our romantic relationships. Letters is attempting to rekindle the forgotten art of courtship, to nurture and shine a spotlight on the beauty of the traditional love letter.

The series assumes that a lot more than looks is what it takes to woo. “We wanted to come up with a television series that is within the programming trend of today but that doesn’t put the emphasis on physical appearance,” Elatawi says.

Good luck to Roxanne then who, up until the final episode, will only see her suitors on paper. In the end, will the winner’s wit be enough, or will Roxanne have to give him the red light-or card-of elimination? And if he’s hot like Beckham? Get an opalescent leg over him, girl!


A prolific love-letter writer, James Joyce – author of the sexy novel Ulysses – on August 22, 1909 wrote to his wife, Nora, gushing: “I see you in a hundred poses, grotesque, shameful, virginal, languorous. Give yourself to me, dearest, all, all when we meet.” Fitting for a couple whose first date on June 16, 1904 saw Nora making a man of Joyce by unbuttoning his fly in a dark alleyway. Not a bad start.

June 16 is also Bloomsday. Join people around the world eating kidneys and drinking Guinness, all in tribute to Leopold Bloom, the main character in Ulysses. Get thee to an Irish Pub!

– Sylvie Hill