Dear Marilyn Nelson from Nick

Grade 5
West Haven, CT

Dear Nick,

I’m so glad to meet someone else who loves history!

It makes me happy to know you like how I described the army’s uniforms. That was hard, to tell the truth: getting the description accurate. I think I’ve changed a line from the draft of the poem you read, because I noticed that I had described the boots twice. And I had a hard time deciding how a slave would describe General Washington’s epaulets. The description presented me with a lot of challenges!

I’m glad you figured out who the speaker is. When I look at it now, I can see that it’s not as clear as I thought it was. So glad you got it!

This poem is part of a sequence of poems about the history of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, CT (you and I are CT neighbors: I live in East Haven: fist-bump!). The church was founded in 1666, and has a fascinating history. There were slaves involved in it from the very beginning, and I wanted to make that clear. Stephen Daedelus, the hero of James Joyce’s great novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, says “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” But what’s important, I think, is what we learn from and make out of our history.

I don’t know if I like a particular time period. I’ve written about several different periods, each one fascinating in its own way. I’ve enjoyed writing several books about CT history. I wonder what was happening in West Haven in the 1770s.

All best wishes,

Marilyn Nelson

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