I encountered an excellent article the other day (on the NPR website) on poets' second jobs. Its focus is the U.S., but many of its remarks are also salient in the case of the U.K.. You can read the whole thing here, but I'd like to highlight a number of key points.
The feature mentions the huge growth in the last few years in poets who make a living from teaching poetry, stating that almost all the 75 contributors to the 2012 edition of "The Best American Poetry" "have taught poetry in universities or earned an advanced degree in poetry, or (more frequently) both."
As mentioned previously on Rogue Strands, I'm very much in favour of the positive effect a non-poetic job can have on the writing of verse. As this article explains, there's a long tradition of scientists, bankers, lawyers, etc, etc, being published poets: "One of the most obvious benefits of a day job is that it offers another lens through which the outlines of poems can emerge."
Once more, this argument leads us on to the role of poetry in wider society, to the value that we apply to the genre: "the ways in which we value poetry can be very different from the ways in which we value poets themselves."
The article might go over old ground, but it does so in fresh ways. It certainly got me thinking again about how my job interacts with my verse, not just in overt content such as Tasting Notes, but implicitly in all the rest of my poems. Apart from the roles I play in my personal life (father, son, partner, etc), I'm also an export manager, and have a very specific and consequent type of interaction with people on a daily basis. Those experiences contribute to everything I write.
Derek Walcott, poet and playwright of Saint Lucia, died on 17 March at the age of 87. I think I recall my first Derek Walcott poem. It was 'The Season o...