Writing for Graduation by Abigail Schott-Rosenfield

Giorgia and I are writing poems for our own graduation ceremony—which is a mere few days away (!?!). Our mission, as I have interpreted it, anyway, is to be creating something that will be both meaningful to and easily understood by everyone in the auditorium. Something that both preserves our authenticity, and conveys our classmates’. Something not overly cynical. Plus, I found out that I would be writing this poem with only a week or two to spare. I only turn out four or five poems per year that I’m completely proud of, and most of those take me at least a month to finish. In other words, this might be the craziest assignment I’ve ever been given.
I’m reminded of the process of writing a college essay. This is more fun, of course, but some of the elements are the same. The guidelines are, if not strict, at least clear; you’re writing to a very specific group of people; you’re writing to them for a prescribed reason. That doesn’t mean you have no freedom, or that whatever you write will be contrived. But every so often, I catch myself becoming dangerously skeptical about the purpose of writing this poem. Does graduation have any intrinsic meaning, or is this all just pomp and circumstance?

Since this kind of thought tends to occur right after I’ve been writing irritably for half an hour with no results, it’s pretty easy to put down to momentary crankiness. Yes, graduation is meaningful. And not just graduation as a moment in time—graduation as the event that the school puts on and that we’re all obligated to go to in slightly silly-looking hats. One of the reasons it will be meaningful is that the seniors get a final chance to show off our art: to write poems for the occasion, and play music, and dance, and do all the stuff that has been of ultimate importance to us for the last four years.

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