Dear Alicia Ostriker,

I am studying and learning about poetry with my middle school class this month. We were asked to choose a poem after watching a video of poets reading their own poetry. I watched and listened to 10 different poets. The idea was to pick one poem that I really liked. It was the words in your poem that made me choose “His Speed and Strength” as my favorite.

I chose your poem because I like the way all the children were playing. I have done many of the things you wrote about with my own friends.  Swimming, running, joking, wrestling, and riding bikes is what makes summer fun. I have great memories of summertime and your poem made me smile. My favorite line is “wet plums and peaches touching each other as if not to make hate”.

Why did you write this poem, "His Speed and Strength"? I was thinking that maybe this poem is about someone you know? I was wondering how long it took you to write? I think it would be really fun to be a poet. Is this your job or do you write poems as a hobby?

I have always loved reading poetry. It is special to me. Thank you for your wonderful poem. It makes me excited and I can’t wait for summer to come! Hope you have a good summer too.


Grade 7
Afton, VA

Dear Sage,

My first thought looking at your letter was what a fine name you have. Sage is a fragrant herb, and also means a man of wisdom.  You lucked out with that name.

I'm glad you liked my poem "His Speed and Strength," and that it brought you happy memories of your younger self in summertime.  It is a poem that describes a typical summer afternoon when my son was ten. He is now 47, but I hope the poem feels timeless. I can't remember how long I worked on this particular poem, but I'd guess it went through several revisions trying to capture not just the scene but the meaning of the scene. 

You are right that it can be really fun to be a poet. Being a poet is not exactly a job, and it's not exactly a hobby, though I make money being a poet (not much but some), and I also enjoy making poems. It's a calling, a profession, like being an artist or a musician. Who knows—maybe you are a future poet.

Best wishes,
Alicia Ostriker

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