I wrote this after attending my nephew’s college graduation. The guest speaker that day was The Poet Laureate Of The United States, Robert Pinsky. The Honorable Poet Laureate was eloquent in his remarks; he quoted a Polish poet of whose works he had done a celebrate translation. But what stood out to me was that he offered no words of wisdom to the new graduates, which I found a bit odd as I thought that was what graduation speakers are supposed to do and what they were paying him for. He wasn’t there for the kibitz, that’s for sure. He was on a tight schedule and he had to catch a plane, so to put it poetically, he had to cash and dash.
So I tracked him down at Boston University where he was on the faculty and he had an email address. And I sent him this.
To The Honorable Poet Laureate Pinsky,
I attended the Hiram College commencement last Saturday. My nephew was in the graduating class. I was pleased to have an opportunity to hear a commencement address given by the United States Poet Laureate. The reason that I am writing to you is to discuss your commencement address to the graduates.
I write poetry. It would be more accurate to call what I write doggerel though I call it “smile poetry” as the purpose of my poetry is to put a smile on someone’s face. I have had some commercial success writing custom poetry for special occasions, milestone birthdays and anniversaries, and my specialty, Bar and Bat Mitzvah candle lighting ceremonies.
Certainly, I do not consider my experience as a writer and a poet to qualify me as a literary critic. However, my experience as a parent of a recent college graduate (my daughter graduated from Ohio State last year) does allow me the liberty to comment on your advice or lack thereof to those young people about to go out into the real world. I am going to take a stab at doing it poetically.
Surviving in the real world
Is truly no easy trick
If you want to teach them with poetry
Give them words of wisdom from Mick..
“You can’t always get what you want.”
The most important lesson to be learned..
It counter balances unrealistic dreams
And teaches Success is not easily earned.
They can graduate Magna Cum Laude
But they won’t soar above and beyond
If they don’t have a lick of street smarts
And don’t know when they’re getting conned.
Unlike teachers, bosses aren’t enlightened.
They’re ideas will be summarily rejected..
And as far as expectations go…
They can expect the unexpected.
When they’re climbing the corporate ladder
And the competitive pressure mounts
They better know how to pucker up….
Selective butt kissing counts.
But they also need to know that hard work counts too.
It is the real means to the end.
And resourcefulness and self confidence
Are the things on which they should depend.
They should believe none of what they hear
And skeptically half of what they see.
When something seems too good to be true…
It’s most likely the way it will be.
Life comes at you fast and throws nasty curves.
It ain’t all rainbows and moon beams.
But they have to always believe in themselves
And never give up on their dreams.