“It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”
— William Carlos Williams, physician and poet
I have picked crops, been a mill worker, a cannery worker, a sawyer, carpenter, surveyor, bus driver, musician, engineer, and resident corporate mustapha. Now I am studying to be a working poet – with a small p.
Labor, the work of your hands and heart, is sacred and you shouldn’t give it away to just anybody. I started working on commercial farms picking berries and beans when I was ten and have worked at least part of each year since. Poetry is culture work. If the poet does his or her job well, their work becomes insurgent art and a human call to arms, as Carlos Williams pointed out. If there is anything more important right now, I’m not sure what it is.
I started writing under the pen name Burl Whitman when I began learning the craft (I still am.) But after taking numerous classes from some excellent poets I’ve started publishing in journals and elsewhere using my given name. It seems like a good time to start using it here too. I like my pen name though. Burl has helped my learn to write like who I am. So he isn’t going away, just taking a breather. Thanks to all my friends who have read my work here. I’ve learned a lot from reading yours as well.
Write on, my friends. It is down to us now.
Yours in art and labor,
–Craig Brandis (aka Burl Whitman)