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The subject line is from a March 1958 letter written by Henry Rago, then editor of Poetry, to Aileen G. Melchior, who had asked him to give her "an honest appraisal" of her twelve-year-old daughter's poems. Her letter opens with "I don't understand traditional poetry very well and modern not at all. I am not familiar with your magazine however I have been told that you are one of the most astute judges of modern poetry in America," adding that "it would a tragedy indeed if the child had talent which I failed to recognize."

In his reply, Rago repeatedly cautions Mrs. Melchior against "over-encouraging": "I was a child-poet myself, and I know that she can do justice to her talent and at the same time have all the fun that any child should have. She shouldn't be deprived of this -- even poetry isn't a good enough reason."

The daughter, Julia Anne, replied to this with a thank-you note:


... as for writing poetry, I don't write, I just put words together and they come out poems.

I don't know if I'll be a poet though, Mama says there's no money in it and I do want to eat. I really do love words, especially adjectives. They seem to know how to describe exactly what you're feeling.


[quotations from Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters]

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