Dear Ms. Hirshfield,

I have recently read your poem, “Vinegar and Oil.” I really enjoyed the symbolism and language used. Many would ask why not use oil and water, but I think you used vinegar to symbolize the bitterness and bad things we all experience in life. Also, when you mentioned how we are so fragile and sensitive until we have a short moment of happiness was a very interesting observation. I completely agree with you when you said that fate is confusing and life is incomplete as long as you're living it.

While listening to you read your poem I felt the passion and a bit of bitterness, but in the best way. It sounded like you have been hurt by life in the past but you have overcome your struggles. The overall tone sounds like wisdom you were trying to bestow on your listeners which was so powerful.

I do have a few questions about your inspiration and thought process for this poem. First, what made you choose Oil and Vinegar? Is this poem based on a figure of speech? Or is it because oil and vinegar are such simple but complex ingredients that seem to work well together? Also, who/what inspired you to write this poem? Was there a specific event in your life that made you feel this way? Lastly, it is known that art can be interpreted in many ways. With that said, what exactly does this poem mean?

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope to hear from you soon.


Grade 12
Tracy, California

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