Craft Studio: Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now
What I Was Reading:
Matthew Olzmann’s poem, Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now serves as a warning for everyone living on earth now. It offers a glimpse into our future, showing us the harsh realities we will face if we don’t become better stewards of our environment.
What Moves I Notice the Writer Making:
- In typical letter form, this poem addresses the imagined audience directly us “you.”
- Phrases such as “most likely you think,” it must seem,” and “you probably doubt” give the poem an air of “I know it looks bad but…” This is an effective way of saying, without saying, that we are convincing ourselves that we’re doing ok but we’re not. As in, we may tell ourselves that we love elephants and whales, but we aren’t doing enough to protect them.
- The repetition of “back then” is powerful because it describes our current reality—we have stars, forests, lakes, and bees—and we are taking it for granted. Olzmann is giving us a vision of where we are headed if we don’t change our ways. The final one-line stanzas makes it clear: “And then the bees were dead.”
Possibilities for Writers:
- Read this text as a writer to notice and name other interesting craft moves and discuss how they impact you as a reader.
- Think of a topic and audience for your own letter to the future.
- Explore similar texts such as this Letter to My Younger Self by Olympian Anna Cockrell or this Letter to My Future Self by skateboarder Alexis Sablone.