Friday, May 30, 2008
back from Erin's Graduation. Beth's mother and I left early, Erin and Beth are still partying. this is graduation from the homeschool cooperative to which we have belonged for, whoa, 5 years. Erin in fact did not attend the cooperative this year. meant to do the Shakespeare play (performance of which earnestly reported here a few weeks ago), but his class schedule at the community college proved impervious to such additions. so Erin and 6 other fellow travelers were honoured for moving on. schooling options, especially for someone who might be deemed different (like that's a prob, but that's the point), were not enlightened in Alaska and Idaho when Beth and Erin lived there, so homeschooling was a natural, well, the 1st word that comes to mind is resignation, as in being resigned to how formalized and closed thinking public school can be. the idea of the cooperative is to pool resources. over the years it has become more school-like, but it has been a good experience for Erin. he did Shakespeare, Mock Trial, various classes. Beth and I taught there, as well. this past year, he did quite well in college. academics weren't the question, schedules and tests and such, the structured stuff, were. yet he done well. a few weeks ago he was invited to dinner at the school, because he had participated in a number of school events and so was honoured for being an Emerging Leader. Beth had to work that evening so he and I went. I tried, twice, to write of it here, but couldn't get the words right, my pride. I mean, I could not portray my sense of his accomplishment, knowing as I do but you do not what it took for him to be where he is. every child is special needs. IQ tests and SATs are tools for understanding (flawed, at that), they are not character studies. having been in the wine business, where way too many people think those 100 point scales for reviewing wines are guarantees for enjoyment, I know that people are easily confused. as if you could taste a number. so... each graduate had "7 minutes" (not all 7 minutes are alike) to do something. a couple performed music, a couple stood and riffed. one, a loudly outgoing girl, did a hilarious PowerPoint performance about her life, all 18 horse-infused years, churning her personality-plus into an implacable career path. Erin perspicaciously put his suit coat on (no tie) when he was called. he had prepared nothing, which several others admitted to. he rapidly bailed and called us to the microphone. Beth gave a neat encapsulation of the homeschooling experience that she and Erin had. two issues exist with homeschooling. dealing with the bureaucracy, which, depending on where you live, can be criminally retrogressive, and dealing with the academics, how to get it taught, particularly that which you don't know. it is a heroic effort. Beth did that. she did it without a lot of resources initially. Beth turned to me when she finished, but Beth had said it all and I did not want to invade her glory (glory it is). and we went back to our seats. but Erin stayed at the mike to make a joke that I cannot replicate, alluding to gaming, referencing graduation, which had the effect, I am not kidding, of one of Carl Yastrzemski's mind-blowing exploits during the Red Sox's 67 season. that is, an up against it moment, and somehow... the poetics of this is situation. this is the locus from which I write. not in the sense of biography, tho that is there, but the influencing forces. critics revel in the association of facts of an artist. what could be juicier than the suicide of father that Berryman witnessed (if I have my facts right, which I need not). Erin is part of my poetics. it was interesting at the graduation because each graduate used their 7 minutes differently. one boy played a tape of a piece that he composed. Beth and I both assumed that he was a musician in the rock band sense but indeed was he composed was orchestral, strings and woodwinds, sight read by a high school orchestra. I thought there were points where the development stalled, but it was a delicious piece nathless. 7 or 8 individuals were presented. compared with the uniforms marching to the stage at other graduations, which is such an appalling image when considered. I could launch a rumination/screed on homeschooling but I will let it go. Beth knew all along, and I agree, that Erin would have been a target in the definition rich environment of public school. you know, lord of the flies: big kid = oaf, innocent = stupid, unhip = lost. poetry, you readers who are poets must know, is a strain of language, and I mean the complexity of the word strain. I do not dismiss public schools. I did not shine in public school but I got thru, perplexingly ordinary because I can conform. not meld, but I flowed along. Erin cannot conform or meld. he is always so obviously so. which seems like an affront to many people. he writes with knowing ease. at his age I wrote with blind vigour, an exacting idea of juvenelia. he is taking a drawing course this summer, suddenly declared an interest, and in his 1st class drew something or other. excellent composition, and a very good feel for shape and the gradation of shade. tho he hates using charcoal. I don't want to make Erin's case, that is his job. I am just keenly aware of Erin's, um, Kampf. the world does not respect uniqueness, unless it has to. okay, we'll accept this Emily Dickinson character, eventually... poetry, friends, is a primal idiosyncrasy. we accept it for its exceptions. we also tiresomely, accept poetry as a function of conformity: poets as Byronic heroes, poems as heighte4ned confessions, etc. these simplifications place stones in the passway. Erin's is not a simple story, but no one's story is simple. homeschooling, when it is not defending the comfy chair called Intelligent Design, deigns to keep a few doors open, instead of forcing definitions to enclose. it is a courage to attempt the task, but courage is a central quality to Beth. with homeschooling, inevitably, you reach a point of wondering, did I do the right thing?. as if paying that much attention in one's child's education could possibly be wrong. as I said, it was not the academics that we worried about with Erin at Com Coll, but navigating the social construct. at that community college function, I felt pride seeing Erin making headway with that large mystery of social nexus. he could never politicize that, turning it into a condition of definitions. he just was not equipped with those distinctions. but he could be, will be, a poet of an expanding universe. he learned early, within the instrumentation of his life. poetry was a little bit hip when I was 16, I mean I could contrive a vision of poetry being a winnowing of sensitivity types. which it is. the odes to dead pets fall away. yet poetry, at base, is an effort to make words mean what they mean. they are what they are, and continue so, responses to the world lived now.