Friday, July 01, 2016

The genius of youth

In that early '90s cinematic classic Six Degrees of Separation an ageing, jaded art dealer takes a break from upbraiding his surrogate son Will Smith to tell a story about a visit to his grand daughter's kindergarten. Looking at the bold and bright and fearlessly imaginative paintings and drawings on the kindy walls, the art lover suddenly realised that 'every one of these children is a Matisse, a Picasso'. He confronted the kindergarten's teacher, and begged to be able to enrol at the institution, so that he, too, could become a great artist. 

I'm thinking about trying to enrol in my oldest son's kindergarten, after the lad told me this story last night, when he was supposed to be sleeping. 

Dad let's talk abut numbers. 
Ten is big. But not quite big.
A hundred is big.
You can tell nana that there are a hundred ants in New Zealand, probably nearly.
Thousand is so big it goes up to the Sky Tower.
Million is so big it goes up to the moon.
Million goes to the end of the universe if you try to write it in a book.
If you tried to count it you would go all the way until you stopped just before you died.
It would take you til you were an old man.
It would take eight weeks.
But that's not the biggest.
Do you know what's biggest?
Do you know what you call it?
It's called a flower.
A flower is even bigger.
You can't even count a flower.
The richest pirate in the world, he had a flower gold coins.
He died at Christmas. He use to make everyone happy.
He was a goody pirate, that's why he got flower gold. Everyone gave gold to him.
He would make a beanstalk grow up to a castle and he would make a kid grow up to his birthday. Tongan kids know him.
If you were nearly five and you needed to grow up to five he would help, he would speed you up to your birthday.
His name was Slow Coach. He walked really slow.


As soon as he'd finished his prose poem Aneirin fell asleep. 

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]

6 Comments:

Blogger Richard said...

Scotus! You've stolen your son's great creative ideas! It so accused thy stand! That's a good poem whoever wrote it. The flower's the biggest!

Children can be creative as they have no preconceived ideas of what is 'right'....

My daughter had a picture she did called 'The Girl on the Faces' and I stole the phrase and put it in a poem.

"The girl on the faces is a thousand child..." It starts.

I was looking again at some poetry by James Schuyler who has a mix of sophistication and learning with sometimes what seems an almost child-like limpidity, but he's always interesting. There's some stuff on Jacket about him.

He won the Pulitzer: one of the NY Poets with Ashbery, O'Hara (he also knew John O'Hara who was an interesting novelist), Koch, Barbara Guest, Joe Brainard and others including artists such as Fairfield Porter, Jane Freilecher etc.

1:12 am  
Blogger Richard said...

I read it again. Cheered me up. A brilliant poem!

1:15 am  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

Yes Richard marvellous stuff! I remember the way you worked some interactions with your kids into some of your poems.

I hear her in the next room: she is still alive.

Of course, they're all grown now!

Schuyler certainly has a child-like quality. I'm just rereading Alice Oswald's Dart now: do you know it? Marvellous poem, makes The Waste Land redundant...

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