Monday, March 26, 2018

2018 Poem #12 -- Letter to the Future

by Tyler Kline

In this exercise, students write a letter to a person living fifty years in the future.  First, read Matthew Olzmann's poem “Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years From Now” as a mentor text.

Students may write the letter to a specific person or to an anonymous "someone" like Olzmann does.  Encourage students to consider what they want to tell this person living in the future with some of the following prompts:  Do you want to share information about what is going on in the world right now?   Current events?  Celebrity gossip?  Do you want to share a fear, dream, wish or thought that you currently have?  Remind students that their letter do not have to be about anything monumental (example: Olzmann writes about animals becoming extinct) but what students write about should be significant to THEM.

As they write, encourage students to include a question to the future reader, something they would like to know from this person.  For example: "Do you still have the McDonald's Dollar Menu?" or "Who is on the one-hundred-dollar bill?" or "Are robots friendly?"

Olzmann ends his poem with the powerful line, "And then all the bees were dead."  Students can choose to end on any type of note they want -- inspiring, hopeful, forlorn, confused, etc.  Whatever their choice, encourage students to craft a last line that is as impactful as possible and to write this line in a separate stanza.

If time permits for discussion, students can share their poems with a partner.  The conference partner can pretend to be the reader fifty years from now and predict how this future reader would respond to the poem. 

Further Reading:

Tyler Kline is a teacher and writer from Pennsylvania.  In 2015, he was named the Poet Laureate of Bucks County, PA. 


  1. Love, love, love this! That last line presents a complete an utter lesson in tone. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Wow--I didn't know this poem. I'm eager to share the poem with my students. There will be rich conversation!

  3. Hi Friend! Love this lesson and this poem! We miss you at Unami.