updated 04/25/2014 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/26/2014 AT 8:45 AM ET
When Billy Crudup took the stage Thursday night at the Academy of American Poets’ Poetry & the Creative Mind gala in New York City, no one knew he’d be introducing a new voice in the literary world.
Artists and celebrities including a chuckling Julianna Margulies, a smiling Meryl Streep, a stuffed-up and sniffling Tina Fey (who brought along a bag of cough drops), as well as Kevin Kline, Patrick Stewart and Rosie Perez watched intently.
Crudup, who’d just finished reading Philip Levine’s poem “Gospel” to a sold-out crowd at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, broke out a poem he said came from his son William’s yearbook.
Then he revealed William, 10, his child with former girlfriend Mary-Louise Parker, actually wrote the piece himself, including the lines:
Life is weird
Life is a potato
You put a lot of stuff on it
The high-profile people on the stage with Crudup appeared impressed by the third-grader’s work. Actress Parker Posey told PEOPLE afterward, “I love that he used a potato,” she said. “That was probably the most endearing thing tonight.”