Arts of the Contact Zone
Published on Jan 1, 2016
Whenever the subject of literacy comes up, what often pops first into my mind is a conversation I overheard eight years ago between my son Sam and his best friend, Willie, aged six and seven, respectively: “Why don’t you trade me Many Trails for Carl Yats . . . Yes, it’s . . . Ya-strum-scrum.” “That’s not how you say it, dummy, it’s Carl Yes . . . Yes . . . oh, I don’t know.” Sam and Willie had just discovered baseball cards. Many Trails was their decoding, with the help of first-grade English phonics, of the name Manny Trillo. The name they were quite rightly stumped on was Carl Yastremski. That was the first time I remembered seeing them put their incipient literacy to their own use, and I was of course thrilled.