Dear Alberto Ríos

I recently had the pleasure of reading your poem, “Don't Go Into the Library,” in my creative writing class. We are currently studying poetry and when we read your poem, it caught my eye. The way you compare the allure of a library to that of a pet store or bakery allows readers, much like myself, to grasp how all-consuming and tempting a library can be. One of my favorite lines in the poem is when you write, “Those novels with their big eyes,” because of the comparison you draw between looking into a shelf of books and looking into the adorable eyes of a dog or cat. I also thoroughly enjoyed the way you proposed that a library, within itself, is a book. Hands down, my favorite line connects with this idea when you share, “The library is the book of books, / Its concrete and wood and glass covers...” The notion that a library mirrors the very objects it holds inside is such an abstract take that I was unaware of before I read your poem. Being a book lover myself, I connected with the line, “You may not come out / The same person who went in.” The novels one reads can truly change them and disrupt their perspective for the better and I appreciate that you mentioned the large impact books have on the human experience in your poem. Thank you for crafting a beautiful poem about a sacred place that I hold dear to my heart and thank you for sharing your talent with the world. 


Grade 11
Howell, Michigan

Hello, Grace—

Thank you for you very kind words and for sharing your keen observations.  The lines you point out are favorites of mine as well.  Great minds think alike!

First, let me say how glad I am you are taking a creative writing class. “Creative” means discovering your own path, making your own choices, and finding meaningful outcomes. “Writing” is what you do with these super powers. Creative writer, the world is yours. 

The line of yours that I really liked is when you refer to libraries as sacred places. “Sacred” here I take to mean especially important and different from all other things. When you step into a library, you simply feel something. In that silence, you hear the sound of all the choices in the world.  That is special to me, too.  I am always changed by it. To be surrounded by the whole history and imagination of human kind, moving in every direction possible, all at the choosing of my fingertip—that is not simply sacred, but amazing.  It is a good fire in the brain.

Good luck to you. And may you find libraries everywhere you look, in all things.

Alberto Ríos

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