As part of the 2020 Dear Poet project, students around the country and the world wrote letters to Forrest Gander in response to a video of him reading his poems “Lava” and "Moon" aloud. Forrest Gander wrote letters back to three of these students; their letters and his replies are included below, along with several additional responses from students.
Forrest Gander also wrote a response to all of the participants of this year's Dear Poet project.
Dear Readers and Writers,
I'm so grateful for your letters, the memorable stories of your own lives in relation to these poems, and the complexity of your questions. As some of you have noted, the little "MOON" poem is what is called a kind of "concrete poem." In other words, it acts out its meaning. The light of the moon that we see at night is, as you know, a quiet reflection of the sun's more intense light. In the same way, the lower case word "moon" is a quieter, lower case reflection of the capitalized word "MOON." The poem a soft echo or reflection of its title.
And most of those of you who wrote to me about the poem "Lava" had insights and personal experiences that suddenly made the poem richer for me, because your lives and imaginations became part of the poem. Its meanings expanded. I wish I could answer all your letters. And even though I'm not able to do that, we have nevertheless entered into a different kind of relationship. I have witnessed, by reading your insights and questions, your minds working. That experience, your experience, has become part of me. I hope some day to be reading your poems.