This is the letter addressed by Adil Jussawala to the readers of The Right Kind of Dog, where he talks about writing, reading and understanding poetry.
I imagine most of you to be young, not more than fifteen years old, though some of you could be much older.
There are adults who may tell you that those of you who are not yet in your teens are too young to understand these poems. If they do, they should realise that no one, not even the wisest of them, can fully understand a poem. A poem can never be reduced to a single meaning. If you read a poem more than once, you’ll see that each fresh reading yields different meanings, some subtle, some not so subtle, some hard to take.
Unfortunately for me, I may have written some—very few I hope—which continue to puzzle. I don’t mean to puzzle you, but, as you know, some puzzles, like some riddles, can be interesting.
If some of my poems seem hard to figure out when you first read them, give them another try. You may find, in time, that you’re closer to understanding what the poems say; not closer to understanding them fully—that’s impossible, as I indicated earlier, but close enough. I may as well tell you that I don’t have a special understanding of my poems myself.
Words happen, I work on them. Why? Mainly to make them interest you, to entertain you. Since I sometimes offer you images of unpleasant things, like war, famine or, for that matter, your school, you may find such entertainment grim. But I mention such things because they are an inescapable part of our world. Should we shut our eyes to them? Should injustices never anger us?
As a person I may moralise about peace and love, about social reform. I hope these poems don’t do that. If they turn your world into a surprising place, even for a little while, they’ll have done their job.
And that, for me, is reward enough.