S was an exceedingly polite, solemn thirteen-year-old boy, about to enter high school. He was deeply affected by the bitter divorce of his parents. "Sullen and withdrawn" was how a psychiatrist described him. There was concern that he would not be ready for writing in high school.
Each time he came, we read aloud together and discussed short stories or
poetry. He wrote dialogues and stories as homework. In one dialogue, he
is the close friend of a couple—classmates who break up. He brings about
the reconciliation and they embrace him.
Among the poets we read were Ted Hughes and Richard Wilbur. Ted
Hughes' "Tales of Ovid" provided the text we read aloud for the last lesson.
Exhibit A: At our first meeting: his written response to my instruction to
write about what interested him. (Note the careful spacing and the care
not to reveal feelings.)
Exhibit B: On the final day, I asked him to choose a myth from which we
would each choose a character in whose voice we would each write a
poem. He chose to write as Arachne; I wrote as Athena. After twenty
minutes, we shared our poems with each other.