Friday, October 17, 2008

What Work...

First, Tonight, Friday:


The Center Broadsides Reading Series

Friday, October 17, 6:30 pm


ADA LIMÓN, This Big Fake World & Lucky Wreck


$10 admission includes a broadside with the work of one of the readers!
The Center for Book Arts
28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10001
(212) 481-0295


Max is meditating on work.  It's a list of questions I'm asking myself often lately, as things happen as they do and my desires might be to spend my days differently than I do now.  I'm not going to answer his questions aloud.  I'm sure you'll arrive where you need to with them.

It gets me thinking about not just the process of work, but the process of finding work.  In a sense, it's a job in itself: crafting resume, cover letter; navigating the online application softwares various places now use; if you're looking for teaching, you've got a stack of letters somewhere and have to ask someone to send those out for you.  Then there's the waiting: most jobs in teaching seem to want the materials in October or November, and maybe they'll get back to you by April or May.  Even the average administrative gig's process can take two or three months.  Nevermind the task those who review those must undertake.  Like I said, it's a job...a process.

I'd rather be painting than have a finished painting on my wall.  I am more fulfilled in the time it takes between starting and finishing a poem than I am in the time between sending the poem out and having it published.  The process is paramount to the finished piece.  Just as we create art through a process, is there art in the process of finding the work?  

I spoke with "my attorney" yesterday, who's sent about 500 cover letters, where in the first sentence he intended to write "public," apparently had the word "pubic."  It humbled him, made himself laugh to tears, as the biggest firms in Manhattan, he believes, have his letter set aside as an example of what not to send.  The humor's there, the laugher, is wonderful.  His sense of humiliation, I hope, passes as it doesn't seem productive.  He told me about his typo, and I remembered the old lesson that there are no mistakes in art.

Is it possible that that missing "l" is exactly what his artist process needed?  I believe if that detail kept him from getting into any of those firms, those jobs where not were he can best serve.  The goal, perhaps, is to get the job, but that is just as important as doing the job.  If the job has called to you.  If you perform your job with faith and grace.  

Deep within Max's post, we're reminded that, regardless of your actual profession, we are always in process.  Challenges that are our opportunities.  If you work, why?  If not, do you use that time to work on the interior life?  

Here's the first poem in Stephen Dunn's Different Hours:

Before the Sky Darkens

Sunsets, incipient storms, the tableaus
of melancholy--maybe those are
the Saturday night-events
to take your best girl to.  At least then
there might be moments of vanishing beauty
before the sky darkens,
and the expectation of happiness
would hardly exist
and therefore might be possible.

More and more you learn to live
with the unacceptable.
You sense the ever-hidden God
retreating even farther,
terrified or embarrassed.
You might was well be a clown,
big silly clothes, no evidence of desire.  

That's how you feel, say on a Tuesday.
Then out of the daily wreckage
comes an invitation
with your name on it.  Or more likely,
that best girl of yours offers you,
once again, a small local kindness.

You open your windows to good air
blowing in from who you knows where,
which you gulp and deeply inhale
as if you have a death sentence.  You have.
All your life, it seems, you've been appealing it.
Night sweats and useless strategem. Reprieves.



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