A Letter From Kurt Vonnegut

Saw this on a news site, chased it back to Reddit and Imgur. I figured this particular audience would like to see it, even if it's yet another "So Anything Goes" from me.

The story is that a teacher asked her students to write to their favorite authors asking them to visit. Mr. Vonnegut was the only one to respond, though he didn't visit.


For those who don't like clicking on links to Imgur, here's what it said:

"Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Conglusta:

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 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 grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut"

And, I would say, you now owe it to yourself to create something you can show someone.

I don't know about you guys, but I did an awful lot of tearing up of my work, early on. Not literally -I never actually destroyed it-, didn't tear it, burn it or delete it, but I created an awful lot of stuff I never showed anyone.

It would have been an awful waste to walk away from that without ever showing someone my work. I think that goes for anyone and everyone who's written for themselves, to learn and better themselves, but never quite made the leap.

Kurt Vonnegut always seems to know what to say. Is it just me?

I've read very little of his works, but what I have read I enjoyed a great deal, including The Big Space Fuck and a collection of stories called Armageddon in Retrospect. A guy who includes his asshole in his own signature? He's got style.

That's a pretty awesome letter. :) I should probably read one of his books someday.

Vonnegut made a deep impression on me in high school. I read every book I could find by him for my senior English project... just loved how surviving war became this sardonic jumping off point.

Start with Cats Cradle... you'll probably go !!!! but that's the best part about Vonnegut.

Looking for Welcome to the Monkey House now...