As part of the 2022 Dear Poet project, students around the country and the world wrote letters to Georgina Marie Guardado in response to a video of her reading her poem “Eye on the Sparrow” aloud. Georgina Marie Guardado wrote letters back to seven of these students; their letters and her replies are included below.
Georgina Marie Guardado also wrote a response to all of the participants of this year's Dear Poet project.
Dear young poets,
I write to you with much gratitude for choosing to read and respond to my poem, Eye on the Sparrow. When it came time to choose a poem for Dear Poet 2022, I decided on this poem in hopes it would offer a quiet experience of solitude to its readers. I often crave quiet, still moments in this fast-moving world, one that is often so loud with anger, violence, fear, things to do, and expectations to be. I thought a slow, quiet poem would be appropriate. I wondered, maybe it’s too quiet of a poem, maybe it doesn’t address the anger, confusion, sadness, or even happiness and joy we all carry. When I received all of your letters, I was reassured that this poem did exactly what I had hoped it would.
I read each and every one of your letters and I have to say, each one warmed my heart, gave me hope, happiness, and joy, but most of all, inspiration. I admire each of you for your poetic souls and willingness to find yourself in a poem where you can reflect on meaning, emotion, and feeling. Many of your letters, if not all, brought me to tears as I read them on a, ironically, very quiet morning.
I had no doubt that each student reader would be brilliant and creative, critical thinkers. Yet, I was so impressed with the care and compassion each of you carries for nature and for our bird people. When this poem entered your worlds, it no longer belonged to only myself. In reading your letters, I learned that this poem, and poetry in general, gave you a voice, a space for reflection, and words for comfort. I learned so much from the analysis each of you offered for this poem, which included aspects and ideas I didn’t even think of when I wrote it.
The most common question I received in your letters was what inspired this poem, what made me write about a bird, and what did dog paws have to do with it? This poem is very much a literal poem about a cold, fall morning where I found myself in a contemplative state with a bird in my dining room. I was woken up from a deep sleep by one of my dogs, Micco, jumping around on the hardwood floor in my dining room (my dogs’ claws always press hard on the floor making pretty loud clicking noises). I thought my dog was in a scuffle with my cat, but when I ran into the dining room, and yelled to Micco, he stepped back and looked at me and I saw the bird flapping around desperately. Micco was so curious and while he was charging towards her, he wasn’t trying to hurt her. Once I was able to get her into my hands, we sat on my back porch and I held her until she calmed down and felt safe, and I knew she wasn’t injured. I remember feeling so much emotion when we finally made eye contact. She trusted me, and Micco by this time was quietly sitting behind us just observing.
Some of you characterized the bird in this poem as a human, perhaps one you are close with in your own lives. Some of you felt the bird represented your grandmothers, or your parents, or your friends. This poem is now an entire universe of possibilities, thanks to your ingenuity, uniqueness, and interpretations. I have no doubt that each of you is a poet at heart. Each of you has so much to say and I can only imagine the poems you will write, and the creative lives you will lead.
I am honored by your words. I was once a young poet and I must say, poetry is as much my passion now as it was when I was in high school. Poetry was and is always a safe haven for me to express myself, and I can see that poetry also offers this to all of you. I leave you with some words from one of my favorite poems, Ars Poetica by Dorothea Lasky:
“I say I want to save the world but really
I want to write poems all day
I want to rise, write poems, go to sleep,
Write poems in my sleep
Make my dreams poems
Make my body a poem with beautiful clothes
I want my face to be a poem”
With kindness and in solidarity,
Georgina Marie Guardado