Dear Alicia Ostriker,

My name is Cole. I am a 9th grader. I have just read your poem, an excellent poem, “His Speed and Strength,” and I was moved emotionally. This poem reminds me of when I was little and how I would go down to the pool with my sister and my mother. I can recall having memories of riding my bike and racing my sister to see who could get there first. Meanwhile my mother would enjoy the day and ride her bike while in awe of her surroundings. I can remember those days as if they were just last week.

I love this poem because I feel as if I am put in the story as the speaker. I have a picture in my head of what “the green hornet” is like and how they are “flashing around the corner to Nassau Street.” I do have a question about the comparison of the “white children wrestling the black children like wet plums and peaches.” I feel uneducated when I read this line. I would like to know what you were implying when this was wrote. I do feel as if this line is alluding to the social injustice happening today in our world. I do also love the line of “it is not necessary to make hate.” I feel as if that specific line was showing the importance of the line before.

I have learned many things from this poem. I feel that I have learned how there are important events that surround us, yet we fail to explicitly show them. I feel that we don’t recognize the importance of these events and how we should feel about them. I will continue to examine these events and this poem and relate it to our world. I have had an opening experience reading this poem.


Grade 9
Aurora, CO

Dear Cole,

Thank you for writing to me. I am so pleased that you liked my poem "His Speed and Strength," and that it reminded you of your own younger self, swimming and biking, and even your mom biking too, just as I always did.  Poets hope their poems will speak to their readers' experience, so you are an ideal reader for me.

The Green Hornet was a comic-book crime fighter when I was a kid.  You can find images of him online.

The lines in the poem about the black and white boys wrestling and joking together as teammates, looking "like plums and peaches touching each other" is expressing happiness that there's no racism in this scene, and then imagining no hate between any groups of people, and then thinking about Walt Whitman, who imagined a world so completely alive that you could say "there is no death."

I like your point that poetry can make us aware of things happening around us, that we could pay more attention to things we usually ignore.

I hope you will go on reading and finding meaning in what you read.

Best wishes,
Alicia Ostriker

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