Dear Linda Gregerson,
My name is Jazlyn and I am a senior in Honolulu, Hawaii. In English class, we learned that it is National Poetry Month, so we started a poetry unit. To be honest, poetry isn’t my favorite thing to study. However, I love that there can be many different interpretations of the same poem. Also, poems can have many messages embedded in them. In honor of National Poetry Month, my teacher decided to give us an assignment to read and analyze poems. Then, we were to pick a poem that stood out to us and write a letter to the author.
In class, we read a collection of poems from the Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. The poem that stood out to me was yours. It was titled, “Line Drive Caught by the Grace of God.” I liked that in this poem you used baseball as a metaphor because as a kid I always loved playing and watching sports. The baseball reference in the fourth stanza that says, “of a player suspended above the dirt/for a wholly deliberate, perfect catch” really caught my attention. I could just imagine this play happening in my head as I read the line. Another aspect that your poem had that stood out to me was targeting how society changes people. Then, I looked up other poems that you wrote. I really liked the poem called, “The Three-Legged Dog at the Heart of Our Home,” because there was a lot of imagery within the poem and I love dogs. The line that really caught my attention was, “She wore cotton dresses, usually blue, and glasses/with thin gold frames and plastic cushions for the nose./ The plastic was slightly pink.” The descriptive language gave depth to the writing because I could put myself into the scenes. Being able to picture what’s happening makes the poem connect more to me and feel as if I am there.
I went back to your poem “Line Drive Caught by the Grace of God” because out of both poems, this one spoke to me more. I listened to you reciting the poem and this really helped me to understand the tone and attitude of the poem. As you read it, the tone in your voice sounded like disappointment and disgust because people care so much about money and appearances. The way I interpreted your poem was that society changes people and can bring out greed. People put on appearances for the outside world, but the constant faking becomes reality. Pretty soon these people are no longer putting on an act because this is who they have become. This really made a personal connection with me because as a teenager, I feel the pressure of fitting in. The worry about what people think of me and making sure that the way I dress is how everyone dresses. They’re always people judging me in person or on social media. I feel like I have to keep up with the platform of social media and real life. Your poem inspired me a lot and I decided to write a poem myself. In this poem I talk about wearing a mask and not being true to myself because of the standards of society. It says how behind closed doors we aren’t afraid to be ourselves, but in public we act different to try to fit in. The idea behind this poem was to take my interpretation of your poem, “Line Drive Caught by the Grace of God,” and write what I think the pressure of society does to people.
I had some questions I wanted to ask you about writing. One question I have is, how do you decide what you want to write about? There’s an endless number of topics to choose from, so how do you know if you picked the right one? Also, do you try to have a message in the poem that can relate to many or just a select group of people? Thank you for writing poems because they inspire people like me. Even though poetry isn’t my favorite thing to study, this experience of reading and writing poems has changed my perspective of the world and writing. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter as well because it means a lot to me to get to know how writers come up with topics.