My Son the Recruit

05/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The whirlwind journey of David Sills from a 13-year-old middle school quarterback to the most talked about college recruit in the nation continued late Friday night...

"For the people that don't like kids getting recruited early, if it was their kid, what would they do? Would they hold back?" Sills' father asked... "If he was a great piano player or a gifted child actor and I held him back, wouldn't that be wrong?" -- "David Sills and Family React to USC Commitment," ESPN News.

When I walked into my 13-year-old son Christopher's room three days ago to tell him the Dean of Bushwack University's graduate school was on the phone, calling to offer him a full ride for his Master of Fine Arts in Poetry degree, Christopher was deep in the middle of the final sestina of a group of thirty-three villanelles he's been working on after school the past three days.

"Tell the guy that Bushwack U. has always been my dream school," Christopher said, "and that if it had been any other college I'd probably demur, but like that lady at the end of Jim Joyce's great ode said, yes yes I will yes yes!"

"Can you talk with him for a minute, so he can be sure you're committed?" I asked.

"Hey Dad -- lots of poets have been committed," my son shot back, "For starters, there's Bob Lowell and Ezra, and then Sylvia and Anne and, for my money, the greatest of them all even though they were Brits, John Clare and Bill Cowper, and if I wasn't below the ordinary age of onset, tell him I'd already be committed too, ha ha."

That's my boy -- not only a genius with rondeaus, eclogues, and classy birthday doggerel, but with a sense of humor to match -- and his whirlwind journey, from a middle school honor student to the most talked about grad school poetaster recruit in the nation has our telephone fibre-optics buzzing.

Once I'd informed his Honors English teacher, Jill Shir-Shmata, who immediately notified Dissent magazine and American Poetry Review, news of Christopher's commitment spread quickly. The backlash, however, has been disgraceful. Happily for us, though, most of the criticism has been directed at Solomon Farblundget, the Dean of Bushwack's grad school, and Sid O'Sioghaeaughdey, Chris's poetry coach, who's pipelined lots of his star pupils to Bushwack through the years.

Bushwack was looking at a slew of college seniors, of course -- reading their poems, watching videos of them at poetry jams, visiting their all night poetry-and-kielbasa marathons -- but when Sid strode into the Dean's office and put on a CD of Christopher reciting his one hundred and forty-four poem sonnet sequence, "Fallow Facebook Fellow," the Dean reached for the phone.

"Iowa and Stanford, eat your hearts out!" he crowed after I gave him Christopher's decision. "And all you Robert poets -- Frost, Graves, Service, Ludlum -- move over, because in only nine forgettable years, our boy Christopher's coming to town!"

For those out there who don't like to see kids getting recruited early, I ask: if it was your kid, and he was being recruited by one of the most storied grad programs in our poetry-loving nation, what would you do? Would you hold him/her/it back? Now, if their kid was a great football or rugby player, or a soccer, baseball, or basketball phenom, or even an actor, actress, or rock guitar idol, I could understand your concern due to all the bodily stresses and tax problems such young talent might be subject to.

But that's not who my son Christopher is, because as he put it in one of his early sprung-twitter poems, 'the brain, brain has mountains/ but the body sucks/ especially before puberty.' Christopher loves poetry, and most of all, like all good young American bards, he's a boy who likes to have fun. And if it ever gets to where he's not having fun, I told him he can just stop writing poetry, and start in on his memoirs.

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