April 23, 2015

Dear Ms. Toi Derricotte,

Before I begin my letter, I would just like to say how much I admire you as a poet. You are one of the most amazing people I have come across in a very long time, and I hope you enjoy this letter. One more thing, I’ve read that you were a Michigander, and as you can see from the top of the address, so am I. Sorry for dilly-dallying, I just had to get that out! 

When I was reading “For Telly the Fish” I wasn’t exactly fond of the poem right away, but then I heard you read it aloud and I was in awe. I had this anxiety at the beginning of the poem; I wanted to know more about this delightful fish with an eye for art. Then, I got to the end. It hit me in the gut like a wrecking ball. I felt lonely, sad, a bit depressed. It was shocking how emotional I felt. It was almost like a feeling you lost, but never had to begin with. This poem was an emotional rollercoaster for many different reasons. The main reason I was so affected was because I can relate. I had 10 goldfish at different times (all named Randall) and I felt as if I had been gutted out out, limb by limb, feeling by feeling when they had died.

All I could think of was Telly’s point of view. At first, I imagined him seeing all these white walls, white curtains, white floor, things so ordinary it almost hurt. Only one thing made that heavy feeling go away, completely unordinary, that painting by Alice Neel, the center of his world. Then, his life was even more complicated than he thought when he saw the face above your hand; the ordinary hand that fed him, he was lost. Lost because he had then realized that there was more to this ordinary world than just the walls of white.

I thought that the fish which was in your poem wasn’t really “in” your poem. I reflectively thought that the fish resembled another person in your life. I am thinking this because when you put the actions of the fish and the affection of the fish together, it sounds as if you’re talking about a person. So, was this wonderful poem about a fish, or something a bit more personal than that? I could be wrong about the entire thing, and maybe you just now realized it was about someone special. I am also very curious as to what grabbed you into becoming such an awesome poet? One more thing, I am practically dying to know this, what does poetry mean to you?

With much appreciation and respect,

Grade 5
Bloomfield Hills, MI

dear poet letters