Kurt Vonnegut responded to High school project

Posted by Dobrien 1 year, 6 months ago to Education
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In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author and ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond - and his response is magnificent:
“Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!"
Kurt Vonnegut

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  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 1 year, 6 months ago
    No fair, Tennis without a net. Perfect.
    My first thought: No Fair, A border without a Fence!

    Haven't tried sculpting or acting....still working on everything else on that list...
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  • Posted by mccannon01 1 year, 6 months ago
    Very nice advice. Except if he tore up his poem and discarded it without showing anyone, how is Ms Lockwood to know he wrote it and not flunk him?

    Uh oh, I have made faces in my mashed potatoes and pretended I was Count Dracula. When my kids were little they thought I was hilarious. I've done a lot on the list. I haven't written or torn up much poetry, but have thrown most of my oil paintings in the wood stove because I didn't like them - wife was not happy.
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    • Posted by CaptainKirk 1 year, 6 months ago
      I tossed my paintings because my wife didn't like them! LOL (I am an engineer, but I believe deeply that we grow through trial and error).
      He gave wonderful advice.
      I shared it with my daughter who made me read one of his books...
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