Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On pitching yourself/ pitching forward

While all three of us prepare to give our thesis reading (T-11 days), prepare to format the living daylights out of our manuscripts, and try to call U-Haul for the summer van rental and slam the phone down in horror before the first ring, the hunting continues.

Recent whims in the job-search/grovel (findings usually occur between the hours of 7-10pm, when things feel critical):

1. Should I take an unpaid writing internship with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Missoula to increase my editing skills? Dang-- looks like they'd prefer current students, and as interns tend to go, to grant college credits in lieu of monetary compensation.
2. Can I be a field manager for a women's health non-profit in the summer months in Missoula while I wait for the ticking clock that is my lease to run out? We'll see (if I'm qualified).
3. Should I apply for a craiglisted job based in Chicago, but that allows telecommuting, to be a part-time moderator for a message board on a radio-news website (which, by the way, offers an unheard-of-in-Montana rate of pay). Sure. Can't hurt.

Summer after MFA is now filled with attendance to two weddings, a trip to Portland, OR to see more coast, and that daunting U-Haul call I've got to make. Our graduating friends & peers seem to have beautiful and lavish plans for their immediate future. When will they find out I'm the fraud in their midst?

Today's job application curiosity was instigated by Frances McCue's visit to UM to talk to us about, among other things, pitching yourself to....the outside world. Which, very fine advice in itself, placed me in an odd out-of-body mind-wandering state for hours afterwards. The idea of grant-writing and supporting yourself in the nonprofit sector to supplement creative writing led me on this tangent (nevermind how I can use the practical information in the future):

1. McCue's obsession with the trails leading from and to Richard Hugo around the Northwest allowed her talk to capture the value of Hugo's anti-Romantic romanticism in poetry. That is, he's know for writing about the remnants of crumble in an urban or rural-urban landscape, and less about the organic matter of the world and nature-to-beauty ratios.

2. Recent lit crit illuminates the details of another boat-rocker, Walt Whitman, as contributing to specific ideas of Romanticism used by Emerson. Emerson distinguishes between "religion" and "spirituality" in terms of degrees of individualism. Perhaps Whitman and Hugo share a similar poetic ability to seek the spiritual in the grass--or in the bars and barns of the U.S.--and create from this individual spiritual commune with the things plain and crumbling around them a kind of religion, where "...every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."

If we keep this in mind, we'll all do just fine. No matter who out there is hiring.

1 comment:

Isaiah Vianese said...

I find myself in a similar place. As I gear up to move post-BA and prepare for my MFA program, I find myself perplexed as to what I should do to meet the demand of my ever-increasing bills. My MFA program, though modestly priced, offers little financial aid beyond loans, and so I need to find a way to put food in my mouth. Thus I am job-searching with only two modest tools in my pocket: a BA in English Lit and a good internship with BOA Editions--both of which I am afraid will help me little. Nonetheless, I have discovered three categories of job opportunities before me: the badly paid/unpaid internship, the copy-editing gig, and the poet-by-day-waiter-by-night position (with which I have had more than enough experience).

Yet, I feel undaunted at this point. As you said LEW, we will make it. The poets before us have faced the exact same challenges, and now they are in positions that enable them to garner our admiration. If they can do it, we can to. Best wishes to all of you almost-Post-MFA people, and good luck with your thesis-readings.