The second of three essays by Davis Plett
n the last essay, I attempted to show the sealed door that exists between the adult and the teenager: the sorry plight both of the adolescent world, its chosen and unchosen darkness, and the powerful role our culture has played in the whole problem. Now we must ask if there is not some solution. Here are two ideas which attempt to address that question.
The first idea begins with a question: what happens when adolescents, teenagers of the twenty-first century, make art; more specifically, the kind of art which attempts to somehow express what is going on in their soul, body, heart? Do such individuals exist?
To my delight, I have discovered that they do. Why are adolescents generally one of two things: sullenly silent, or deafeningly defiant? I suspect it may be because there are things in adolescence which, at first, cannot be talked about rationally; yet we ache to speak them, somehow, somewhere. We are silent or screaming because we are bewildered by our first encounters with “Life, the Universe and Everything.” Yet these same people, a generation abandoned by empire are, I have discovered, making art which moves deep into the adolescent experience of the world and of the self; art which searches the soul, scours the mind, and is carefully crafted by the body. There are some things that can only be spoken by that slightly crazy little person in each of us whose name is the Poet. The Poet, perhaps most especially the adolescent Poet, is in revolt not only against the banality and brokenness of his age; the Poet is in revolt against himself.
The second idea begins with a story which occurred one sumptuously soggy winter morning, in a melting world under a blazing sky. Through the door of a small coffeehouse came the usual procession of coffee seekers. Some left.
But some stayed.
Around a miniature island of tables sat an extraordinary company. There was an elderly lady with a face like a mouse. There was a man with huge glasses which suggested that he feared some stray object might strike him in the face at any moment. There was a young African woman with laughter like the sun. And there was a hilarious old gentleman who seemed happily helpless to stop the fountain of stories which tumbled from his mouth. There did not appear to be any real reason for their gathering, but that did not matter. The whole scene was a sight, a sound, and a scent of love and laughter and home. They stayed for about an hour. Then they got up, and went out into the world.
The adolescent needs to be at such tables. In that heady, wild world, stories can be shared, the Poet can lay their tale to rest, and the weary traveller can find some peace in the company of others. Around such tables, the adolescent can be told, “The world is a sorry place, and you are sorely needed. The Poet tells the truth; now become a Poet who tells the truth – there are people here to teach you. Then we shall go out into the world.” Why are adolescents not found in the company of their elders more frequently? Perhaps it is because we have chosen to decline the invitation. Perhaps it is because the invitation is rarely made.
But I have been to such tables before. They exist, thank God. And every visit I make to them, as an adolescent, is a journey into a world filled with wonder.
Poets claim to deal with poetry. Coffeehouses claim to deal with coffee. Thankfully, they are hopeless liars. They deal with magic.
Poetry and coffeehouses are two ways the adolescent can storm its soul, and lay siege to the wall between the adolescent and the adult. There are a million. But wherever and however they occur, they are accompanied by a glorious, rending crash, for the door of the tomb has cracked.
Davis Plett is a homeschooled grade 11 student. He is “seventeen and crazy,” and spends most of his time participating in the realms of writing, music, art, and mountain biking. He would like to thank Emily Baron for her beautiful art. Emily is “seventeen and crazy” as well.