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Good day to all and welcome to Poetics! My name is Stuart McPherson and once again I’m very proud to be tending the bar!

So…how are we feeling today? Has anyone been to work? Is anyone going to work? Is anyone tired from the Monday to Friday rat-race? I AM! It’s been a hectic week for sure, but in the midst of it all I found myself stopping and thinking about “what IS work?”. I thought about how it impacted on my life & what it meant to me. I can honestly say that I think it has made me feel every kind of emotion from utter elation through to dagger mouthed misanthropy. It’s these feelings that I want to focus on as a source of poetic inspiration.

So then- Work…we all ‘do it’ or have ‘done it’…but what does it mean? For something to be constituted as ‘work’ does it have to be paid? Does there have to be an income? What about voluntary ‘work’ and what about us creative types who talk about ‘our work’– our poems, our writing, our painting, our photographs- that’s pretty meaningful to us right?

Perhaps more importantly what perceptions does work create within society? Is some work seen as better than others? Are the highest paid jobs the most satisfying? Or is it something else? After all, we talk about job and work satisfaction don’t we? Why does it even matter?

And I wonder, how many times have you met a stranger only to be asked that question of ‘what do you do?’, because in some way work defines us (or can be perceived as defining us)

To be frank- all of the above tends to baffle me. It actually makes me quite angry. Do we really judge each other on based on these ‘accepted’ criteria. Hey- look, I know it’s not ALL bad- some people have jobs that genuinely contribute to this world.

From an artistic point of view let me provide some examples to encourage more ‘poetic’ thought around this subject. This painting by Maximilien Luce called ‘Morning, Interior’ shows a man readying himself for the day ahead. Luce’s paintings often centred around the world of work and this piece is no exception.

Morning,Interior by Maximilien Luce

Public domain image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

What strikes me about this picture is all of the things that surround the figure- the fold-out bed, the sparse furniture and the seeming lack of companionship. But then his expression and body language seems to imply such emotion, probably because we have all been there sat on that bed in the early morning light. I wonder about this man and about his feelings and purpose.

The point I want to get across is that our interpretation of work is incredibly personal. It plays such a huge part in our lives. We might love it, we might hate it, we might be indifferent (until we lose it) and it is this I want us to tap into…what’s your perspective on it?

What do you see when you see people working on a day to day basis? Do you see the people or the work? What about people who are ‘out of work’- how would you feel if you couldn’t work. What if you got fired? Would your perspective change? In a climate where unemployment and redundancy is rife- this seems so relevant to consider.

At this point, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce award wining Irish Poet and Spoken Word Artist- Stephen James Smith. Stephen has kindly given us permission to use one of his spoken word pieces- ‘Signing Your Life Away’ for the purposes of this prompt. For me, this piece is so eloquent, so poetically descriptive and emotionally relevant- I couldn’t NOT ask to use it for this prompt. The poem speaks for itself. I implore you to listen to it and to check out more of Stephen’s work from the links below


OK, and finally, a poetry prompt about work would not be complete without an addition by Charles Bukowski. Bukowski was always at odds with this world. The poem ‘the trash men’ speaks to me about the contrast between work and life. The trash-men come and go, hurriedly and with purpose…they can’t see the poet whose trash they are taking away…maybe Bukowski felt that their work blinded them to the existence of humanity, of people, as signified metaphorically by the trash (such a human product of life itself)

the trash men

here they come
these guys
grey truck
radio playing

they are in a hurry

it’s quite exciting:
shirt open
bellies hanging out

they run out the trash bins
roll them out to the fork lift
and then the truck grinds it upward
with far too much sound . . .

they had to fill out application forms
to get these jobs
they are paying for homes and
drive late model cars

they get drunk on Saturday night

now in the Los Angeles sunshine
they run back and forth with their trash bins

all that trash goes somewhere

and they shout to each other

then they are all up in the truck
driving west toward the sea

none of them know
that I am alive

OK- SO- let’s get to WORK (sorry…couldn’t resist)…
For this weeks prompt write a poem about work. 

  • Write a poem inspired by the pictures, thoughts, or words above
  • Pen a poem about ‘Your work’- however you define it- it could be the office, it could be the paintings you paint or the poems you write.
  • Write an observational piece from inside or outside the workplace- what do you see?
  • Write about a form of work that you find deeply satisfying
  • Write about a memorable encounter relating to work (this could be playful, funny, or melancholic)
  • Explore what problems work can create in society (unemployment and it’s impacts for example)
  • Write about your first job, a past job, a worst job,or best job.
  • Write about aspirations and dreams with regards to work
Of course, these ideas are just a starter for ten…this is WIDE open
What to do!
  • Write your poem and post it to your blog
  • Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below
  • This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog URL and entered your name, click Submit. Don’t worry if you don’t see your name right away.
  • Read and comment on other peoples work to let them know it’s being read
  • Share via your favourite social media platforms
  • Above all- have fun!

Of course- might not be a good idea to write something about your boss that they will see and ultimately land you in hot water!- unless you’re feeling gutsy of course! Just saying! (I’m writing this prompt AT WORK… shhhhh don’t tell OK?)

See you out on the road.

Stuart McPherson