Dear Mr. Mattawa:
My name is Zoë, and I am a year 10 student in Los Angeles, California. I love interacting with poetry, and enjoyed reading your piece, “Ecclesiastes” because it seemed like a puzzle waiting to be solved. I was left to find what the “trick[s]” and “rule[s]” were in reference to; finding connections between lines and my personal life allowed them to expand and become more meaningful to me. The line “no one in the world suffers like you,” listed to be a “trick,” seemed ironic because it seems that most people like to think that their suffering is unique. I interpreted your poem to be read by someone who was manipulative or taking advantage of someone else. It reminded me of Native Americans being forcefully removed from their land because of how the government “trick[ed]” them into thinking that they were being “help[ed].” Because my grandmother grew up on an Indian reservation in Washington, this translation of your poem caused me to to feel the “anger,” “rage,” and “love” that you mentioned in the poem. I was impacted because of how so many people are oppressed and ignored, and how angering it truly is; “Ecclesiastes” provides a deeper view of this suffering.

Although I enjoyed reading through the tricks and rules of “Ecclesiastes,” I am still curious as to what these are pointing toward. What are the rules for? What was the backstory of this poem? What was it inspired by? Why must people be tricked, and what is gained from that? In the line where you mention “anger,” “rage,” and “love,” what would your example be of these things?

I have always been interested in writing, and enjoy exploring the life of poetry and creating my own. As a poet, why did you decide to pursue this profession? Have you found it fulfilling? Where do you find inspiration?

Thank you for sharing your art.


Grade 10
Los Angeles, CA

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