Dear Mr. Mattawa:

I will be honest here and say that poetry isn’t my favorite when it comes to literary genres.  Growing up with ADHD and the inability to properly concentrate made focusing on the meaning of poems very difficult.  However, your poem “Ecclesiastes” caught my eye and made me want to devote some time to try to understand its meeting.

Personally, I loved your commentary on the “rules” and “tricks” of society.  I appreciate how you discuss the dualism of generosity and selfishness within ourselves and society.  We believe everyone should be willing to help one another, yet we often make others’ predicaments about ourselves.  The line where you say, “No one in the world suffers like you,” really hit me in a way most writings don’t, primarily because I have conflicting feelings in regards to it.  In one sense, I agree with the quote. There are times when I feel I am the most hurt and broken person in the world because of my circumstances.  I’ll feel as though things may not get better and that I am just supposed to be in an eternal fight with myself.  However also I disagree with it.  I know I have my privileges, I know that my life in retrospect isn’t that bad, and I know everything could be a lot worse.  I am transgender and as harsh as my dysphoria is, I’m not the only person who suffers from the illness.  I can say that I can pass, that I have a supportive family, doctors to go to to aid my transition; while there are those like me who are thrown out onto the streets, left to rot and survive on their own. 

Nonetheless, within society we must find our place.  When you say, “Everyone is searching for his tribe,” I started to really think about the world.  As much as some of us won’t like to admit it, we are all in categories.  We all belong to a “tribe” at birth, but through life we search for smaller ones besides our larger ones.  We do this for protection against the world; because if we don’t have a tribe we become the outcasts of society, and thus break its rules.  However, do these rules really mean anything?

Your choice of a title specifically caught my eye.  Ecclesiastes is one of the 24 books of the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible), which has a specific message of “everything is meaningless.”  Within the book, Solomon discusses the “big picture” of life and how life is somewhat empty and how no matter what we do in life, we all die.  Perhaps maybe you chose to choose this title to juxtapose the message that rules are meaningless with the message that everything has rules.  Did you choose to speak of society because you yourself have your own conflicts with it?  What is your tribe?

Thank you for reading my letter.


Grade 11
Mastic Beach, NY

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