Dear Mr. Hirsch,

            The thin brown branches stick out
to try and reach what they never

will be able to.
Their shadow’s cover the ground
forever trapped
for an indecipherable reason.

I’m writing to you because we are very alike. I am a budding writer. I go to a creative and performing arts school in Pittsburgh. I major in Literary Arts and we have been learning poetry for the past nine weeks.

The main reason I am writing to you is for advice. I read your poem “Cotton Candy” and I felt really touched by it. You used really strong imagery, such as “that sweet blue light spun out of nothingness” and sensory details such as “and threading my fingers through the long and slender fingers of my grandfather.”  I also felt the strong love that you have for your grandfather.

I know that you have been writing poetry for a long time, so you might have some things to offer. How do you create strong images? Do they come from real things or do they come from the image you make of them?

I love all types of writing but I have really grown accustomed to poetry lately. Our class just wrote an emulation of Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” I did my emulation on the Sakura Tree and the poetry at the beginning was one of the stanzas of the poem.

Your poem was much better than this but one day I’m sure I’ll be as talented as you. I am currently in the 6th grade and will remain in Literary Arts until after high school. I hope you will write back to me soon.

Yours truly,

Grade 6
Pittsburgh, PA

April 29, 2015

Dear Ian,

Thank you for your beautiful letter. You’re right—you and I are so much alike, which is why I’m glad to write to you about poetry. Your portrait of the Sakura Tree is strong and memorable.

I’m glad that my feeling for my grandfather comes through the poem “Cotton Candy”—that’s the most important thing. I was trying to recreate our last walk together. I wanted to dramatize that for a reader, just like you, who could also walk with my grandfather and me from one shore to the next. Some images come from memories, some from observations, some from the imagination itself. We remember, we see things, we make things up. Our minds are our resource, and we don’t want to limit ourselves just to what happened to us. But what happens to us also matters, and that’s why it’s important to try to save our experiences and pass them on through writing. Life is so short and precious, and we need poetry to try to hold onto it.

Poetry is a way of connecting, and I appreciate how deeply you’ve connected to me.


Edward Hirsch

dear poet letters