As part of the 2022 Dear Poet project, students around the country and the world wrote letters to Aileen Cassinetto in response to a video of her reading her poem “There are no kings in America” aloud. Aileen Cassinetto wrote letters back to ten of these students; their letters and her replies are included below.
Aileen Cassinetto also wrote a response to all of the participants of this year’s Dear Poet project.
“…Some of you also asked me if I believed in the American Dream and what it meant to me. No one comes to America without believing in the American Dream. The issue is that the American Dream has been redefined so many times over the last one hundred years. I think that it means different things to different people, and is now mostly associated with success, wealth and well-being. However, the American Dream was originally about equality, justice and democracy. When I first came to America, it was easier and more acceptable to say that I came here for economic reasons and to reunite with my family. In my heart of hearts, though, I came because I knew I could be a poet here.
Lastly, you asked me why I write poetry. I write poetry because it offers a world of possibilities and the possibility of a better world. I write poetry because there are stories that need to be told, and a kinder future that asks to be pursued…”