Dear Brenda Hillman,

After listening to your poem “Autumn Ritual with Hate Turned Sideways,” I’m torn on what to say. I feel odd trying to put my own spin on "what is symbolism?" or trying to openly make some profound connection because anything that I could say would most likely fall short of your intent.

Every time that I listen to this poem, I finish with a different perspective on it than before. The only thing that has remained constant is the slow tempo of the words. The act of slowly, somewhat painfully, dragging down hate from a rope ladder keeps me on edge, waiting for something to happen. Though I sit listening to this poem, awaiting an eventual crash, I am left waiting. The poem gradually lowers itself as if climbing slowly and painfully down from that rope ladder. I am not even sure if the poem has ended yet, though the theme music has begun to play again and the screen fades. To me, there wasn’t an end to this poem, just as how there never seems to be a point when the hate rests. We know that it’s sick, we put it to bed to heal it, we think that this will help it. But hate is hate whether it’s sick or not. Though we try, we cannot erase hate, only deal with it. We have to bring it down from the rope ladder, raising other things in its place – positivity, hope. It’s the only way to finally allow hate the rest it deserves.

Maybe this theory is written between the lines and I just missed it, or maybe this isn’t what you were saying at all. Maybe these thoughts are specific to me – my own unique reactions to the words. Either way, thank you for sharing this poem and making me wonder: How can we stop hate?


Grade 9
Chatham, NJ

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