So You Want My Job: Poet

I’m figuratively kicking myself for not publishing this post sooner. I claim über busyness finalizing poems for my MFA Thesis and revising the project as a whole. But really I have no excuse. I want to publish one post per week and it has been two weeks since my last post.

To clarify the title of this post, I do not currently work as a poet. I would love to, but I have not pursued the prestigious, though unsung career of a poet. It took me a long time to even admit I am a poet. It took me longer still to admit in public I am a poet. Yes, I am a poet. It was hard to get the words out of my mouth for so long. This post is not about me.

This post is about some recent articles I read about brave folks who have taken that leap. First, the poet Jordan Chaney. Jordan was recently on the website Art of Manliness in 2012. The article I discovered was one of my most recent rabbit-holing spelunking excursions.

Art of Manliness is operated by a husband and wife duo. It is not a sexist site, nor is it strictly for men. There are plenty of articles presented that appeal to women. They describe their site as follows:

AoM is a blog about growing up well, aimed at men and their unique challenges and interests. We explore all things manly — from the serious and philosophical to the practical and fun. We seek to uncover how to live with grandpa’s swagger, virtue, and know-how in the present age by wedding the best of the past to the best of the present. The end goal is to create a synergy of tradition and modernity that offers men a way forward and signposts on how to live an excellent, flourishing life.

AoM runs a regular column called “So You Want My Job.” I do so much Internet rabbit-holing, I don’t remember what led me to this particular topic. I think I may have been looking at another article on Art of Manliness which led me to the “So You Want My Job” series, which led me to query “poet” in their search box. Waaaaaaaaay back on March 22, 2012, Art of Manliness published an interview for the series with poet Jordan Chaney working out of Kennewick, Washington. Mr. Chaney has a personal Facebook page as well as an author page as a career Poet. If you are interested in his life as a poet and how he survives as a poet, I encourage you to check him out.

I also recently started following another blogging poet named Katie Hale. It’s funny that I was going to post about the job of a poet because as I was putting this post together, I stumbled across Katie’s blog. On March 12th, 2017, she published a post entitled: . Recently Katie attended StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, where she served as the festival’s in-house blogger. Sounds like an awesome responsibility! There, she attended an event called “Making a Living as a Poet” sponsored by the Society of Authors. Ken Cockburn chaired the event with poets Sarah Hesketh and Harry Giles offering advice and talking about making money from poetry. They offer a different take on the Poet as a lifestyle and not just because they reside “across the pond.”

I posted this partly because it is important to know what others around you involved in your craft are engaged in. You should maintain a constant dialogue with your craft. There is a larger conversation going on about poetry in the world. Every day there are new speakers, new opinions, new forms, new rules, et cetera. By “dialogue” and “conversation,” I don’t mean that you are physically talking with anyone. This conversation includes blogs, Facebook posts, Twitter, Instagram, anything to engage the world outside of yourself. Poetry is not dead, rather, there are exciting things happening in the world of poetry every day. You just have to open your eyes and look for them, open your ears and listen for them.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

Open Mic Events

If you are into poetry at all, I encourage you to attend an open mic night near you. I have read at four poetry readings since I began taking the craft more seriously last year and I am addicted.

The first read was more than a little nerve-wracking. I believe my right leg punched a hole in the venue floor jack-hammer-style. I had all of the common fears of public speaking when I stood up, but the crowds quickly put me at ease. I hope that you will find poets and poetry connoisseurs to be just as welcoming, gracious, and supportive as I have. There is something crisp and pure and freeing about reading your poetry or other poets to a crowd.

With an event tomorrow I want to add a bit of humor. I found this post on The Best American Poetry blog. I’m not sure if Daniel Nester has been to many poetry readings, but he is spot-on accurate with his observations. This is meant to be humorous. I hope no one takes offense, I mean, come on, we all know this is true and if we can’t laugh at ourselves…

20 Things Not to Do at an Open Poetry Reading

by Daniel Nester, November 05, 2015

  1. Write your name illegibly on the sign-up sheet.
  2. Complain to host when he/she can’t read/pronounce your last name.
  3. Go over the allotted time, so much so that you are mistaken for the “featured” reader, who has traveled three hours on an interstate to promote her most recent book, and has advertised the event on her personal website, Facebook author page, sent announcements college alumni listserv (undergraduate and graduate), as well as posted to Twitter and Snapchat accounts.
  4. Go over time by reading a poem that combines several short poems into a single, multi-sectioned SuperPoem®, which uses different voices (precocious child, mermaid, Muddy Waters) and which features with an epigraph, a joke in Latin, which you do not translate and yet giggle to yourself before proceeding with main body of the poem.
  5. Tell host you need to read first, last, or “when my friends get here.”
  6. While onstage, complain about how bad most poetry is then fail to realize the mountain of social privilege and assumed power required to proclaim oneself the final gatekeeper of what counts as good or bad poetry.
  7. Complain about writing workshops.
  8. Then lead one yourself.
  9. Read poem you just wrote about being outside at a coffee shop, which addresses your thoughts about how hard it is to write a poem in a coffee shop, what with all clanging of porcelain and milk getting frothed.
  10. Mention journal your poem was published in before you read it, as if to say, you better like this poem.
  11. Complain about poetry slam’s format and hip-hop MC style, being competitive or too showy or adhering to some random, three-minute limit.
  12. Proceed to perform a poem, in hip-hop MC style, that clocks in at two minutes, 57 seconds.
  13. Plan another open mic with the same people at the open mic where you are reading.
  14. Prick thigh with ballpoint pen every time anyone says the following words: “darkness,” “loamy,” “gleam,” “amongst,” “nevermore,” “nothingness,” “kumquat,” “capitalism,” “shame.”
  15. Complain about the exclusiveness and ivory tower mentality of colleges and all those student-types who take creative writing classes.
  16. Talk about how you first discovered poetry with professor X in college.
  17. Avoid speaking into the microphone provided by your host, then ask if people can hear you.
  18. Read narrative lyric poem about any of the following: 1. your dog; 2. going out into the woods and feeling vaguely religious; 3. Sharing hummus with your lover.
  19. Precede your poem by explaining everything about the poem—the story, inspiration, place it was written, time of year the action takes place—and then repeat this same information in the title of the poem. For example, your poem might be inspired by your going to art galleries with an ex-lover in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, in the middle of winter. Explain all this, and then introduce your poem entitled “Visiting Art Galleries with Ex-Lover, Chelsea, Mid-Winter, 2009.”
  20. Promote an open mic at another open mic.

I hope you get all the laughs that I do out of Nester’s tongue-in-cheek post.

I can’t be any more excited to attend tomorrow’s event after a nearly two-month hiatus. We did not hold a reading in December due to the holiday so we have had plenty of time to prepare new work. Tomorrow’s reading is themed “Brave New World” and I have two poems to read.

Keep writing and get out there to read your work!

Cheers,

Bryan