Dear Alicia Ostriker,

My name is Emma. Your poem, "The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz," really resonated with me. Although I do not know what this poem means to you, or what you intended it to be about, I found it personally relatable. I am a huge advocate for every class of animal; legless to furry, slimy to fuzzy, they are all the same in my book. I want to dedicate my life to showing people that any type of animal has the potential to be a companion, and that people should give animals a chance to teach them a lesson about life. There are countless characteristics in which humans are less than perfect, and that animals act out naturally. Forgiveness, dedication, loyalty, being nonjudgmental and having endless love are some of the many things I wish humans would take a second and reflect on. Your poem helps me articulate my feelings about dogs in particular, and how they adore to work and adore to play at the same time, as to them, work is play. They rarely get anything in return for their work but approval, and that alone is what drives them. That is a beautiful thing. Thank you for bringing light to what needs to be illuminated.


Grade 10
Phoenix, AZ

Dear Emma,

Thank you for your fascinating letter. Poets love to hear that our work has resonance for people in their own lives, which may be very different from ours. The idea that all of us are somehow connected is what makes poetry possible--or necessary. Your advocacy for animals is beautiful, and beautifully described. You are evidently a writer as well as an animal lover. And what you say about dogs can apply to people, too. For me as a poet (and critic, and teacher) work and play are the same thing, and getting approval is more important than getting money. I hope you will find work that you adore in your own life--and that it will be play for you.


Alicia Ostriker

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