The fundamental question for a double-life poet is, “Should I keep poetry separate from my working life?” Wallace Stevens turned down an appointment as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard because he didn’t want to be forced to retire from his job as an executive at The Hartford. William Carlos Williams felt being a doctor and being a poet were “two parts of a whole” and often scribbled poems on the back of prescription pads.
I faced this question while updating my LinkedIn profile. It’s funny how the most innocuous tasks make you rethink your whole raison d’être. Anyway, it’s been almost a year since I graduated from VCFA, but that information wasn’t on the résumé. Neither were my writing and presentation skills mentioned anywhere and none of my recent poetry publications were listed. Isn’t my MFA important to me? I’ve only mentioned it in 10 of the 40+ posts I’ve written for this blog. And don’t I want to use my writing and presentation skills more? Start to blend my double lives more?
And then that ultimate negating phrase popped into my head, “Yes, but”
Yes, but what type of message is that sending?
Yes, but this is a professional website and poetry doesn’t fit.
Yes, but the poetry stuff and work stuff should be separate.
Adding this information was simple – selecting the school, degree, and year from the drop-down menu, typing the words, “writing” and “publication” in the summary section, and copying and pasting the link to my latest publication. I mean, that’s what makes me unique, right? That I like to tell stories with data, that I like to write, that being a poet in a professional world, I wrestle with and simplify complexity, have a more acute sense of empathy, am creative, and can infuse life with beauty and meaning. And just like that, my poetry and non-literary career became one.
I look forward to the day when poetry and my non-literary career can peacefully coexist in my every day world and not just on my LinkedIn résumé.