Wednesday, October 13, 2010
On Saint's 4th Grade Poetry Recital May 1973
From a collection of letters to friends found in Box #3. This one from June of 1973 recalls the poetry recital we all had to do for Mrs Cunningham's class.
"The first boy did Maurice Sendak's "Chicken Soup With Rice" and all the other boys, waiting their turns squirmed in agony so that all the metal seats in the rooms sounded, I suppose, rather like the breaking up of those old ships in the Taiwan Harbor. But God it was funny.
They'd get up there with their jaw muscles working, faltering, flushing , racing through the first stanza since they were the only ones they were really sure of and then doom because the line would come which he wouldn't know. And you knew the boy was thinking two or three lines ahead of what he was saying and the adams apple would start bobbling, they eyes rolling, slight tears springing up and then that awful silence which would s t r e t c h o n endlessly until the teacher would prompt.
Saint's friend Nick Cudahy got up on stage and squared off as though the poem were his mortal enemy, delivered in a fighter's crouch, attacked each stanza by grabbing it at the throat..
And then Saint, doing Robert L. Stevenson's "Land of Nod" squirming like a snake, not daring to look at his classmates, eyes fixed on an owl poster at the back of the room, made it through without blowing a line, then sagged against the back of the wall, wiped his hand across the brow and sighed "I did it!" which met with great laughter and applause."