Dear Ms. Nelson,

My name is Tamia. I’m a sixteen year old high school student. I attend a school for the arts where I study writing, and this year I am taking a Poetry I class. Earlier in the year my poetry teacher, Ms. G, gave my classmates and I a packet of poems to read. After reading and listening to all of the poems we were to write a letter to one of the author’s of our choice. So, I chose to write to you.

I was very intrigued by your poem, “The Continental Army.” I believe the ending is what shocked me the most, although the entire poem was attention grabbing. I saw the soldiers marching, and could almost hear the beat of the drum they were marching to. I guess I would like to ask you exactly what the black soldier symbolizes in the poem. Is he simply taking part in a military or war that will never fight for him, or does he symbolize something more than that?

This letter is especially important to me because of what poetry is to me. It basically serves as my voice when I can’t, or don’t feel like speaking. Being able to read poetry from other black authors is also very important to me because of the stories and situations that often arise in our work that authors from other ethnicities or backgrounds may not be able to understand.

I would like to know if there is any advice you can offer me, as a poet yourself. Also, what exactly inspired you to write, “The Continental Army?” I very much enjoyed reading your poem, and enjoyed typing this letter just as much.

P.S., you and my grandmother have the same first name. I thought that was interesting.


High School
Petersburg, VA

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