“To Certain Students” – V. Penelope Pelizzon

This poem’s title caught my attention, simply because of the relevancy… you know. students.

I loved this poem because it honors the creative writer, the lover of art, music, dance, writing, reading, theater – something I feel like happens less and less these days (exemplified by the pre-law for poetry (“my parents would kill me”). As a Biology-CW double major, I often get asked what I’m planning to do with the biology – the writing is assumed to be a hobby. Especially as, this summer, I considered swinging my career path from biology graduate school to some sort of freelance writing career, this poem struck a chord with me. My parents will definitely kill me.

I think this poem’s last few lines really draw out the beauty of being a writer. I loved how moving the last line was – the idea of young, green things (students) moving this ‘oldest tree’ (presumably the writer, the teacher) to tears. I thought the metaphor was beautiful, especially considering the earlier metaphor of all the cold snow getting in between the trees as she writes about the students I’m assuming do not draw her from stupor at the new day’s bell.

I also have a special love for nature writing, and think that the connection between nature and creativity is incredibly close – it interests me that the author seems to be inside, closed in for the more despondent parts of the poem (the first few stanzas about the ‘non-certain students’) and, in the emotionally evocative sections, she writes more about nature as if she were the nature.

Lastly, I really enjoyed two of the stanza breaks – between stanzas 5 + 6, and 6 + 7. The poem really go stronger for me from 5 – 7, but I loved how the pauses almost made me go back and re-read, as though ‘you who tried to quit’ meant both as though you tried to quit writing, but your heart couldn’t let you and just you who tried to quit pre-law.

Meghan Barrett

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