In 2006, a group of students at Xavier High School in New York City were given an assignment by their English teacher, Ms. Lockwood, that was to test their persuasive writing skills: they were asked to write to their favorite author and ask him or her to visit the school. Some of the students chose
Kurt Vonnegut. He was the only one to reply - and it is an inspiring letter. He died April 11, 2007. With much gratitude to all involved, there is the text:
November 5, 2006
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
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.
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely
separated trash recepticals. 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
God bless you all!
Now do some art
Addendum May 7, 2014
Going with the theme of growing your soul, we begin "doing art" with the simple tools of pencil and paper during the
Free online art classes Fridays 10:30 am
All are welcome - let's explore