Dear Linda Gregerson,

I so much appreciate that you recognize the struggles that some teenagers go through in your poem "Prodigal." You are right when you say that the “children of plenty” think we have “no excuse for suffering” and that we think “we should be ashamed,” simply because we are young, therefore we must not have experienced the kind of suffering that others may have. But we are wrong, along with so many people that don’t think we have the right to suffer, as if you have to earn it, as if it’s something you’d ever want. People hide it instead of getting help, perhaps thinking that if no one else knows, then somehow they’ll forget and they won’t know either; forgetting is what makes it worse though – trying to hide it makes it worse because then they are alone in their struggle, or so they think. But so many people go through this exact suffering, not knowing about anyone but themselves because they hide it, because they aren’t supposed to be hurting, because everyone tells them that they are fine, so eventually they start believing it.

So thank you for not trying to hide it and thank you for acknowledging our error in judgment.


Grade 10
Cincinnati, OH

read more dear poet letters 2017