April 17, 2015
Academy of American Poets
Dear Edward Hirsch,
My 6th grade Language Arts class read EIGHT poems this week and we were told to write an author. "Cotton Candy" was my favorite by far, and it is one of my favorite poems ever as well as your other poem "Fast Break." This one touched me personally.
I walked along the same bridge as you did with my uncle and I have stood where you stood. It was just a short walk, but I saw the beautiful river. There were vendors on one side; homeless people on the other, it was full of life. I loved how this poem was just one memorable moment. Was this because it seems like it was one short minute with your grandfather? You didn't draw it out. You kept it “cut to the bone.” I also admired the title, "Cotton Candy." If I wrote a poem about this same moment I would never have thought to name it about a small seemingly insignificant piece of cotton candy. I was wondering if the name "Cotton Candy" was a metaphor because when you put the cotton candy in your mouth it slowly goes away like your grandfather.
How often you think about this moment? The fact that you used no rhymes really made me feel that in one moment there is no time to rhyme. In one quick second you don't have the time to make rhymes. That comes later. To go along with my love for the one stanza I love the idea of only three sentences. I also like that you wrote the poem with 15 lines because that shows that there can be lots of detail and meaning in one short walk.
This poem was the key to my lock. Before reading "Cotton Candy" I never really liked poetry. I didn't understand it. But after reading your poem it clicked. This was the best kind of poem for me: It was short, concise, with no confusing diction, and a metaphor. It was about one memorable moment and that is why I like it so much.
This poem touched me and made a mark on me that I will never forget. From now on, I will model my poems after you and use your diction and format. Thank you for writing such a marvelous piece of poetry.
April 29, 2015
Thank you for your beautiful letter. You and I have taken the same walk, through a poem, and that is very touching to me. Your response reminds me of the power of poetry.
You understand so well that my poem is a walk, a moment out of time. It dramatizes the last walk I took with my grandfather. It was all so fleeting, and yet also durable, like memory. I tried to contrast the evanescence of cotton candy with the sturdiness of the bridge. I called it cotton candy because it all disappears so quickly, like my grandfather, who died when I was eight-years-old. And yet my memory also endures of the way we entwined our fingers, like the cables of the bridge, and held onto something together. I am trying to bridge one shore to the next, one generation to the next.
My handing on this poem to you, my ideal reader, is also a kind of bridge, and it makes me happy to pass it on.