Over at Tweetspeak Poetry, they’re celebrating another Poetry at Work Day – where this year’s official poster boasts an image of a pressure cooker and printed in white, off to the side, it says
in search of me
~ by Pablo Neruda
It’s fitting enough since right here at my place, I’m readWriting through Glynn Young‘s book, Poetry at Work (released last year by T.S. Poetry Press in their Masters in Fine Living Series) – where, in chapter two, he’s talking about the poetry of the interview (which is a pressure cooker of its own making):
In an interview, questions and answers are both imagined and practiced before the actual event. Both interviewers and candidates do this, searching for the right words that will crystallize thoughts and express ideas in a exactly the right way. Sound something like poetry?
~ p. 27
Even though I’ve been interviewed for fistfuls of jobs (waitress, gas station attendant, waitress, teacher, waitress, alternative medicine/nutrition consultant, waitress) over the years, nobody interviewed me prior to my two most longterm, favorite, hardest, easiest jobs. Nary a single inquisitor-ical question was asked about my greatest fear or best day or even about my favorite poem before I swapped nuptials with my man or before I birthed a bawling, wriggling mass of neked humanBeauty.
These roles I fill, these things I do, as a wife and as a momma, I do willingly. And I pray to God that both encapsulate my best work. Because, I am at work all the livelong day, and night.
And when I pause amid the whirl and whiz-bang and simple and slow and fast of it all, surely I see, surely I am poetry.
As a wife, homeschoolin’ momma, photog, writer and general keeper of the home, at work never packs a sack lunch or collects an every other Friday salary or scoots her chair back and click-clacks her heels as walks away from her desk, swishing her skirt as she thinks of cranking Kenny Loggins’ Footloose as she drives, buses, trains, bikes, walks or taxis home.
No sir, no ma’am. For me, at work not only lives at my house, but she barely, rarely ever leaves. While at the ole ranchola she: Eats. Breathes. Cleans. Sweeps. Bakes. Cooks. Washes. Folds. Dusts (though, rarely). Teaches. Tidies. Crams drawers full o’ tighty-whities. Lets the dogs in. Lets the dogs out. Reads. Chops the veggies. Fries the ham. Slices the bread. Chases the cats outta the chicken coop. Makes soup (and everything else) from scratch. This at work, she’s a busy little thing – going, doing, being, again and again. And at the day’s end, she sleeps (but only a little).
When night is almost done,
And sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the spaces,
It’s time to smooth the hair
And get the dimples ready,
And wonder we could care
For that old faded midnight
That frightened but an hour.
~ Emily Dickinson
I am most blessedly thankful for my jobs and I try-try-try not to let mad or disgruntled rue the day when mud and manure track inside on boots and paws. It’s a hardworking, simple life. I know what I know and I know what and who and how I love.
On the flip, I know what I don’t like to have to do – and – what I don’t want to want to do, like: Iron (clothes or her hair). Power walk at lunch. Pop little ear buds in and tune out the world. Answer the phone for another. Fetch coffee (except on weekends, or if company’s come over – which is rare because over is way out there). Re-apply lipstick (or put it on in the first place). Fill a cup from a glug-glug-glug, giant blue water cooler. Dry hands on paper from an automated, whirring machine..
For this chapter’s Poetic Exercise, Glynn asks us to ask ourselves about our favorite poet, and like any good interviewee, to be ready to give an answer. As a simple girl who doesn’t much fancy stepping out into the big, wide world, there’s no doubt about my poet of favoriteness. Emily Dickinson. Although long since gone, and a woman fraught with mystery in her own day, she still captivates, especially in her whit and description. As her friend, Thomas Wentworth Higgison (though they’d only met in-person twice, but knew one another through letters) says in the preface of Poems by Emily Dickinson, Series One:
these verses will seem to the reader like poetry torn up by roots, with rain and dew and earth still clinging to them
quality of these poems is that of extraordinary grasp and insight, uttered with an uneven vigor sometimes exasperating, seemingly wayward
Well then, there ya go. Just ask my husband or my son if these descriptors apply to their gal.
Then, in Glynn’s Poet Focus, he tells us that soon after he’d been hired as a speechwriter, a friend suggested he read more poetry, and in his pursuit of workplace, word-weilding excellence, Glynn obeyed. As a result, he was taken with the writings of Wallace Stevens, a modernist. Our authorMan, Glynn, discovered that
poetry and speeches–truly fine speeches–have much in common in terms of form, flow, cadence, voice, rhythm and how they sound to the ear.
~ p. 29
Difference exist, to be sure, but I readily saw that I could learn much about speechwriting [or for me, being this always on, at work woman] from poetry.
~ p. 29.
Anyone peeking into my world, on occasion may very well see me penning a rhyme; usually though, let’s be honest here, they’d likely see me and my boy dancing and belting out a musical ditty…
Been workin’ so hard
I’m punchin’ my card
Eight hours, for what?
Oh, tell me what I’ve got
I got this feeling
That time’s just holding me down
I’ll hit the ceiling
Or else I’ll tear up this town
Tonight I gotta cut loose
whilst we slide across the floor, wielding notebooks and prepping our minds for a thrilling, pressure cooker of a mathematical lesson — because for me and mine, that’d be just another fantastical day of at work. Poetry.at.Work.
Tweetspeak Poetry site
Glynn Young site
Poetry at Work (the book)
Footloose song – lyrics, accreditation