April 9, 2015

Toi Derricotte
Academy of American Poets
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901
New York, NY 10038

Dear Ms. Derricotte,

I am writing in response to your poem “For Telly the Fish.” I found it so sweet and funny, and it reminded me just how sweet and valuable a single day is. Telly seems so sweet and unusual it brought tears to my eyes when I heard the last part about opening the casket and empting him out into the water.

I loved how you started the poem “Telly’s favorite artist was Alice Neel.” It isn’t how you would expect a poem to start. Alice Neel wasn’t even the most important part of the poem but it was nice. The way it was put it felt blunt but sweet—like a small child—like Telly.

Your poem has inspired me to write about things like Telly, things that seem so simple and unimportant but that really are. I have already come up with several ideas for new poems. Thank you so much.

Warm regards,

Grade 6
Denver, CO

Dear Anabelle,

Thank you so much for writing to me about “For Telly the Fish.”  I’m so glad you liked the poem and found it “sweet and funny.”  Those are good words to describe my feelings about it too.

I very much enjoyed reading your letter.   I like the way you think—the way you named specific things that you felt while reading my poem, naming the parts that made you feel that way, and exactly how you responded.  I felt very moved when you said “it brought tears to my eyes,” and when you said you were inspired to write “about things like Telly.”   I feel I got to know you in your letter.  I was never bored.  I feel the same way when I’m reading a poem that I like.

Believe it or not, “For Telly the Fish” was a brave poem for me to write and publish.  Usually grown-ups don’t confess to loving a fish.  But, as you said in your letter, I thought it was a good idea to write it as a reminder that even when things are small it doesn’t mean that they are unimportant.   I also wrote it just to show my true feelings for Telly.  Telling the truth in poetry, though it may make you feel somewhat uncomfortable, can also make you feel better.  You may get something off of your chest.  You can learn something about yourself that you didn’t know.  And, sometimes, the best thing happens—the way you told me about your response to my poem—a poem can inspire others to tell their stories.

Thank you again for writing.  I hope a few of those poems you wanted to write got written.  The good thing about writing poems is that there is always something to write about whenever you sit down with your pen (or computer!).

Your friend in poetry,


dear poet letters