Dear Brenda Hillman,
Every since I could read I have loved reading poetry, especially poetry that has many meanings, and a mysterious way of conveying its message. My name is Sydney and I am a 6th grader in Washington, DC. I love writing poetry, well I also like reading it. I am writing to YOU because your poem conveyed a deep message and persona that I can relate to. So when it was announced that we were going to be doing a Dear Poet assignment I knew that I had to write to the author of “Autumn Ritual with Hate Turned Sideways.”
One of the many things that I found fascinating about your poem was its sense of mystery. A specific example of this is the title, which includes the word “Autumn,” but there is no clear mention of Autumn in the poem. It allows you to ponder what it could mean. Is it meant to represent a new beginning? Or is it to be taken as “everything must end?” It is as if there are multiple answers to the same problem, and you have been leaving clues to them.
These little clues never say something outright but you can understand that they have a message. All over the poem there seem to be little references to what we have been doing wrong, and what we could change. A perfect example of this is the last line: “Resting letters now so they can live.” Is it to mean do not hate so we can live, or to mean we should hate more because we are just adding to the flames?
All of these things have to do with hate, just like the title, but mostly they are just a fraction of what I want to ask you. What I am really trying to say, though, is that there is no right answer. Your poem can be taken in many ways, as praise, as a warning, as a peace offering.