Dear Marilyn Nelson,

I am an 8th grade student in Trenton, Michigan. I am writing this letter in response to your poem, “Thompson and Seaman Vows, African Union Church.”

I really enjoyed your poem. Your poem was vague, but it was also descriptive. I like how you described both the bride and the bridegroom along with their parents. This gives the readers a glimpse to the struggles they both have faced. I thought your word choice was brilliant in the quote “The bridegroom (twenty-six) cannot read or write, but ciphers and is a skilled carpenter.” I also thought it was interesting when you put both the bride and the bridegrooms ages in parenthesis when you mentioned them. This made it clear that these were two young adults giving their lives to each other.

This poem made me think of one of my friends. I never thought he and I could be friends and now he is one of my closest friends. You can be friends with almost anyone if fate allows. I understand what it’s like to think you’ll never connect with someone, but the friends I made have changed that thinking.

I feel this poem is meant to show its’ readers that you can find love or friendship anywhere. It doesn’t matter who your mother or father is, where you are from, the struggles you’ve faced. The two African Americans in the poem, Charlotte Thompson and Timothy James Seaman, who have both struggled so much, are coming together in a holy union, signifying their happiness with each other. The bride is educated but the groom is not and they both have completely different backgrounds and yet, they’re exchanging vows.

I think you wrote a brilliant piece of poetry. I enjoyed every word. The message you can portray through your poetry to the readers is of the utmost value. I am grateful that you have decided to write this poem and share it with the world.


Trenton, Michigan

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