To “When Giving is All We Have,” Alberto Ríos

I write because someone wrote to me
I write because no one wrote to me

As I was scrolling through the list of poems for this Dear Poet project, this title immediately stuck out to me.

It stuck to me because I could connect to this theme of giving, compassion, sacrifice.
It stuck with me because I feel like this poem represents but a small island in an ocean of chaos. Our society, ever more addicted to the rapid-fire blame game, selfish ambition trumping the symbiotic harmony earned through understanding, tolerance, giving.

Giving is, as you put it, loud and quiet, big and small, old and older. Giving is something so inherently human that sometimes we forget it’s our best attribute. But giving is also a paradox, much like poetry. We give, someone receives. But like poetry, giving is also the language of the soul, giving reminds us that being human is so much more than just smiles and handshakes.

This poem reminded me of how I came to be who I am today, of why I came to be who I am today. Giving is never easy, giving takes battlefield courage, deathly faith, but at the end of the day giving reminds me that I have soul.

I’m about to head off to college this August, and I admit I’m a little apprehensive of being completely by myself, of having to learn how to not overdose on Ramen noodles and doing laundry without making all my clothes pink. But as your poem says, giving makes all of us better, and that makes me feel better not only of the new world I’m about to be thrust into, but also of myself.

So, thank you for this poem. Thank you for taking the time to give us your take, thank you for reminding a teenager of the power of giving.

-David Xiang
Grade 12
Little Rock, AR

read more dear poet letters 2016