Secret Admirer

Lindsay Zier-Vogel spreads the love with the Love Lettering Project.

Summer, 2011 / No. 26
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Lindsay Zier-Vogel

Lindsay Zier-Vogel isn’t a mail carrier, but each year she delivers dozens of letters to unsuspecting Torontonians. The letters aren’t placed in mailboxes, but scattered around the city—one year in phone booths and grocers’ cherry bins, another tied to strangers’ bicycles—each tucked in an airmail envelope addressed with only one word: “love.”

Zier-Vogel, a writer and arts educator, is the guerrilla artist behind the Love Lettering Project. Since 2004, she has been writing and creating hand-collaged love poems and distributing them anonymously. “When I’m taking the love letters around, I just beam,” she says. “It’s ridiculous how happy I get from that.”

The project was born out of a writing collective Zier-Vogel and a friend formed several years ago. The group met weekly, with members often exchanging poems amongst themselves. One day, they left a few poems in the branches of a tree, which gave Zier-Vogel the idea for a larger project. “I was doing a lot of craft shows and press fairs,” she says. “This was a good way to put my words out into the world without sitting behind a table, or having a financial exchange.”

After Zier-Vogel places a love letter in its resting spot, she leaves, never staying to see a recipient find an envelope sitting on a park bench or tucked into a library book. The secrecy allows her to write for pure pleasure. “When they’re gone, they’re gone,” she says.

For the project’s 2011 edition, this June, Zier-Vogel plans to leave five hundred poems dedicated to Toronto—a big jump from the hundred she normally composes—in various places around the city, including one large tree in Trinity Bellwoods Park and in the window of the Paper Place. “There are so many words in front of us that we read every day, and, let’s be serious, most of them aren’t full of love,” she says. Once a year, Zier-Vogel tries to change that. One letter at a time.

Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Photograph by Lindsay Zier-Vogel

Jacqueline Nelson lives in Yorkville. She is a business reporter with the Globe and Mail’s Streetwise team, writing about market-moving news. Previously, she worked for Canadian Business, where she was a writer and fact checker (and sometimes even a model). Last updated summer, 2012.