April 28, 2015
The Academy of American Poets
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901
New York, NY 10038
Dear Mr. Sze:
I read your poem “The Chance” in Mrs. Forster’s English class. Out of the poems we were given as choices for the Dear Poet Project, yours was my favorite one by a long shot. “The Chance” was my favorite poem because it spoke to me and my life in a way that very few poems I’ve ever read have. I am writing this to tell you how “The Chance” spoke to me, and ask you a couple questions about it.
I liked how you used the metaphor of failure being “the darkness” and success being “the light” throughout “The Chance.” This metaphor spoke to me because I find that I am frequently in fear of failure of many things: quizzes, tests, video games, and life. The first thing in “The Chance” that really spoke to me was in the beginning; you talk about your car driving at night to some “blue-black mountains.” I didn’t understand the correlation of these lines to the rest of the poem for a while, and then I realized that this was a metaphor for seeing failure in the future of your life, and trying to capture the last bit of success that you can. This initial difficulty in understanding the meaning of those lines made them that much more meaningful/impressive to me.
The first few lines spoke to me because I could relate to the feeling of wanting really badly to succeed, but finding that failure is inevitable a lot of the time. For example, in my history class, I wanted really badly to get a good grade on the final exam so that I could finish the semester with a decent grade. I studied super hard and met with the teacher a couple times to achieve this success. Fortunately, I didn’t actually fail the test, but I didn’t get nearly as good of a grade as I wanted/needed (I got a C). I was very upset after I took the test, and spent a lot of time worrying about that grade. Your poem “The Chance” (specifically the last two lines) reassured me that a C in 9th grade history class (or any one of my many other past failures) shouldn’t and won’t erase the many chances for success that I will have in the future. That you for writing “The Chance” because of the way it inspired me and how it spoke to me in a meaningful way.
Lastly, I have a couple questions for you about “The Chance.” What inspired you to write this poem? I noticed that this poem was published in 1994. Was that before you achieved the success in poetry, or have you not yet achieved the success in your passion of poetry that you dream of?
Thank you again for sharing your poetry with the world and for helping and inspiring people with “The Chance” and all of your other poems.