The best ever homework assignment. (Thank you Kurt Vonnegut.)

Thanks to the Internet, it is possible to watch a 2002 lecture that writer Kurt Vonnegut gave at Albion College. In the cleverly titled “How to Get a Job Like Mine”, Vonnegut gives the audience a lovely homework assignment:

“tonight, write a six-line poem. rhymed: no fair, tennis without a net. make it as good as you possibly can. for you. don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. alright. as soon as you have the poem, six lines as good as you can make them. you – good for you. don’t memorize it, don’t show anybody, don’t tell anybody you wrote it. tear it up. scatter the pieces in widely separated trash receptacles. and you will find out you have been rewarded, big time. this came out of you! this is the act of creativity! the hell with fame, the hell with money! you created this. so please do that tonight.” [at minute 7:44]

I fell in love with this assignment for its wonderful illustration of the value that act of creativity has in and of itself. There are many, many nuggets of joy to be had in this lecture, so I must recommend watching it in full. It can be found in 5 parts here: