Dear Terrance Hayes,

My name is Sarah. I am 17 years old and I am in 11th grade. I love reading poetry and your poem “Barberism” really stuck out to me. It was filled with emotion and deeper meanings. I’m always trying to find ways to put deeper meaning into my poems, and yours made me realize that poetry can be whatever you want it to mean. It can go with whatever you may be feeling, if you let it. Some people just read through a poem that doesn’t have a clear meaning at first and are done with it. I couldn’t do that with yours. I wanted to sit down and fully understand what it meant to me. I understood that it meant things can be cruel. The world can give you cruel happenings, but that you have to step back out there. Get that “first haircut” after something tragic occurs. That’s what I pulled from it, and maybe that’s because things aren’t exactly easy right now.

Do you turn straight to poetry when times are sad? How do you come up with such good word choice like this? Does it just come to you? One more question I have is how do you start to write a poem? What is that “first spark” of an idea? I’ve heard that some people just start writing down thoughts and feelings and then something good comes out of it. Is that true? I hope you can answer all of these! I wanted to thank you for offering people such deep and meaningful poetry. It’s comforting to know that I can read something I could relate to in some ways. I hope to read more from you.


Grade 11
Potterville, Michigan

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