Anne-Marie Oomen | Lake Love Letters Project
ANNE-MARIE OOMEN, Award-winning Michigan author, writer, poet, Interlochen Arts Academy, Writing Workshops, Poet in Residence, Writer in Residence, Writing Residence
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Lake Love Letters Project

Dear Friend,

I love our waters: lakes, rivers, wetlands, little sinking ponds, remote swamps. If it’s wet, I’ll probably like it. And of course, I’m worried about all of them, as I know many of you are. I often wonder what I can do. I’m not a scientist, politician, lawyer, not even a very good journalist. I often feel inadequate, a “fish out of water” when it comes to this work. This year, a question I asked myself: how might I use my small gifts a literary artist (creative writer) to do something for our beloved waters.

As if in answer, a letter arrived from Liz Kirkwood, Director of FLOW (For Love of Water), one of our most important regional water organizations. In it she explained that this summer, the International Joint Commission of the Great Lakes will make its visit to Traverse City on July 24-25. I had to look up this commission to understand what a big deal this is. The IJC is a U.S.-Canadian treaty organization which oversees the performance of the two nations under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. This meeting is the first in a series that the Commission will hold across the Great Lakes Basin as it listens to reports to the governments and public on the status of Great Lakes water quality. So yeah, a walloping big opportunity. Meeting them is a chance to make clear to the powers (all six commissioners) how much we value our water, how important it is that they be protected, and how threatened they are by commodity influence. Wow.

Then I had a conversation with Liz. She had a vision: at the final meeting with the commissioners, could we showcase our love of water in a way that would involve the arts, particularly the writers. She spoke of the arts as one heart behind all the science and legal work. I was so grateful for her rare understanding. And she offered an idea that I could run with. Could we writers and artists do something with love letters to our waters. Love letters? Yes!

Thus, the Lake Love Letters Project was born. And you are invited to be part of it. Would you be willing to write a love letter to one of our Great Lakes? And share it with us by June 14? Never written a love letter? That’s OK. Ideas and suggestions listed on the guidelines (immediately following this letter) will get you started. But the important thing: show the love. Be specific and heartfelt. Write (or draw) your letter. Send to us. We will share many/all of these with the commissioners, and we will read selected excerpts at that all-important final meeting in a special program.

Thank you for considering this. And I do so hope you can join us for this incredible event on July 24-25, when we will tell the lakes how we feel.


Anne-Marie Oomen

With: Liz Kirwood, Jacob Wheeler (FLOW)

Lake-Love Letters Project Submission Guidelines

Write a love letter to the Great Lakes (or a specific lake). Yes, you are invited to declare your love for a great lake, telling the water(s) how you feel.

Send by June 14. Details follow!

Letters can be from postcard length to 400 words MAX. All folks of ALL ages invited to submit.

Give it a salutation. Dear Lake Michigan, Dear West Bay, Dear Good Harbor…

Here are some ideas you might include. Don’t try to include all, just choose one or two that seem right for what you wish to say to our beloved waters. Or go your own way.

• You can tell the lake(s) about when, where, or how you first fell in love with the water.
• You can tell the lake(s) how it saved your life or spirit. Be specific.
• You can write about how the lake(s) has comforted you and thank it for that.
• You can tell the lake what you think about when you are with it.
• You can remember times you’ve shared with the lakes.
• You can explain to the lake(s) how it has made you whole, better, happier.
• You can explain your fears, your worries or concerns about the future of the lakes.
• You can apologize to the lake(s) and its creatures for wrong doings.
• You can call the lake(s) by a new name, an endearment you wish to offer.
• You can thank the lake(s) and waters for life and gifts (name them) they have given you.
• You can tell the lake(s) a secret or something beautiful that happened because of them.
• You can explain to the lake(s) how sorry you are for our wrongful use.
• You can thanks the lake for the life it provides in so many ways.
• You can make a praise song or prayer or canticle or poem. Or your own thing.
• You can draw a picture of how much you love our lakes.
• You can include a photo or image of your beloved place of the lakes.

Please sign your letter and make sure your name, address, phone, email, etc. are on the letter.

FORMAT: Send to and copy to

  • Your submission should be electronic attachment in Word, Times New Roman, 12 pt.
  • Subject Heading: Lake Love Letters Submission
  • Name, address, phone, email are first on the document, followed by letter.
  • If you don’t have web access, please mail hard copy to: Anne-Marie Oomen, PO 185, Empire, MI 49630, Attention: Lake-Love Letters Project

What happens next? With your permission, we’ll bind these letters into a small book to share with the Commissioners—and if we have funds, we’ll print for contributors, and sell to cover costs. Selected letters will also be displayed at the meetings. We’ll also create a Lake Love Letters Program for that final meeting July 24-25 where excerpts from selected letters will be read for the commissioners. More details later. For now, write your love letter. Thank you!

*If you are visually or physically challenged, feel free to submit an audio tape.