Last year about this time, Glynn Young‘s book, Poetry at Work was released by T.S. Poetry Press in their Masters in Fine Living Series. Hot off the presses, I bought one and read it through, a chapter per day. As a result, my copy is heavy with underlines, asterisks, circles, notes, and other assorted Darlene shorthand whatnots. I don’t wanna keep that all to my own self, so over the next few months I plan to share a chapter a week – including my whacks at the writing prompts.
So, let’s begin at the beginning.
With the title. Poetry at Work — work, like a person, place or thing? Or work, like an action word? He got me thinking before I even opened the book.
Poetry adds a dimension to me that others don’t have — a way of paying attention to and perceiving the world that perhaps challenges or even changes the worldview of others.
I found that in the introduction (written by author Scott Edward Anderson), in which he shared the poetical perspective of yet another author. Made me a little dizzy, all the authors sharing all the authors’ stuff, but then I thought, “Dude, all three are talking about me.” Then I got a little warm-n-fuzzy, along with the dizzy.
Indeedily-do, poetry adds a dimension to me. Or maybe as I’m busy being me, I add my own dimension to poetry?
I doubt it’s an either/or sorta thing.
With that, let’s slide right into Chapter 1: How to Recognize a Poet at Work. As Glynn says, the poets aren’t always the ones roaming about the hallways, mumbling to themselves. More often than not, the poets are poets who didn’t even know it. Yet.
But, they do the things of a poet, like “make uncomfortable observations” and “cut through the thicket of workplace jargon.”
Without their blunt talk stating the embarrassingly obvious–without these poets challenging the status quo–a culture has no ability to change, evolve, and grow.
Each chapter has two special features – Poetic Exercise and Poet Focus. One should take care not to confuse these features with Paltry Poultry Hocus-pocus (Because that would be weird.)
Anyway, this chapter’s Poetic Exercise involves thinking about folks you worked with at three previous jobs — and whether or not your co-workers where poets who didn’t know it. That got me reliving my first paycheck job. I was a waitress in a pizzeria. To avoid undue strain, I stopped that portion of the exercise right there — I’ve had more employment endeavors than I have fingers. Plus, some pretty poetical stuff happened in that hot house of tossed dough and dirty dishes. Why forge ahead?
Next up, the Poet Focus. This chapter zeros in on William Carlos Williams, doctor by day and poet by night. Glynn, in a sly sorta way, also introduced us to Wendell Berry. Actually, it was another twofer deal because Glynn commandeered this lesson to a chat about places – as in where we live/work/breathe, and the impact of who we are – how that influences our writerly endeavors — all whilst Wendell B. gave us similar insight to William C.W. It all came ’round, full circle. Pinky promise.
It’s right there on the table –
pizza, edged in grease, soda carbonating in red
cups, a side of ranch dressing
for dipping crusts. Waitresses keep
working long after the patrons go home.
Bathrooms, mirrors, glass doors, tables, and floors – wiped
de-scummed and cleaned. Afterward
my friend and I clock-out, free. Most
nights we cruised the city beach. I cannot
recall who owned the green, tandem
bike, but borrowed it, we did. Tired
from work, silly with giggles, we pumped
and steered and jerked our way
across the bridge. Then in a wham!
slam! sort of manner, we t-boned
a parked truck, and a man on the
sidewalk raised his can and yelled,
“Cheers! Say, there’s two of you, do
ya wanna marry me? Or is there one
of you and two of me?” We pedaled
back to the beach, sat in laughter,
toes in sand, and ate
leftover pizza, edged in grease.
There ya have it, buckaroos! Rather than deeming my friend the probable poet, I shake the stick to the sidewalk man. But my friend gave a valiant effort as a poetical assistant, influencing that man to say what he said as he stared at us, all wild-eyed and slightly frothy. No, I didn’t work with him, but I dented his pick-up so that counts as something.
If you’re interested in more Poetry at Work, hang onto your kittens and your mittens, at least until next Monday, January 13, when the fine folks at TweetSpeak Poetry host their annual fun-filled, gala-esque Poetry at Work Day. Last year, this is how I partook.
Indeed, there are a lot of dimensions to poetry, aye?