I’m a businesswoman trapped inside a poet. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. I’m a poet trapped inside a businesswoman. Or is it the other way around? Simply trapped. I’m two women in one body. Think Freaky Friday but only one brain. What poets might call a C-lister. Author of one full-length collection, Sister Satellite, and six chapbooks of poetry. Well known in my home state of Wisconsin, to lessening degrees beyond. Huge potential, but . . . Or, what business professionals might call a flash fire. Able to burn through all those wicked company goals in seconds flat, but flames out fast. Ten jobs since college and a good ten years to go before retirement. Not that big a deal if you’re a millennial, but for a boomer? Unheard of. Sit. Stay. Good dog.
Poetry is my first love. I think in poem. I eat poems for lunch. I advocate for poetry as saving lives, celebrating lives, crucial to a well-developed society. If poets were paid a fraction of what professional athletes make — without having to teach — I’d say “put me in, coach.” But, my son is my forever love. If he wants the life of a starving artist, that will be his choice. Until then, he’ll have a strong roof, reliable transportation, lessons, travel, and an education without a lifetime of debt. So I put that weirdly poetic brain to work – marketing, mainly – and found I was good at that too. In some ways, better. I’m goal-oriented and a people pleaser – a deadly combination for an aspiring A-list professional. But remember, I think in poem, i.e.; I job “in poem” too – do it succinctly and move on.
I’m really not trapped. I’ve found balance, of sorts. I don’t write poetry every day, but poetry is a part of my every day life, whether reading a good poem, editing a friend’s work, volunteering on its behalf or recording ideas that might have potential. Planned retreats give me the time to build those ideas into poems and those poems into potential published works. In those published works, you’ll often find women like me – strong-willed, passionate, bifurcated, blurred. And I’m learning to take jobs with people who take me as I am, that encourage the poet to come out to play. I’m in a good career at a good place . . . for now. ;- )
Cathryn Cofell is the author of Sister Satellite (Cowfeather Press) and six chapbooks of poetry, and has produced Lip, a CD blending her poetry with the music of Obvious Dog. She’s the winner of the Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award and the WI People & Ideas Prize for Poetry, among others. Cofell is a tire(d)(less) advocate for the arts, helping to launch the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, Verse Wisconsin, the Foot of the Lake Poetry Collective, the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook Prize and the Poetry Rocks reading series. www.cathryncofell.com
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of In the Context of Love, adult contemporary fiction, a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist, 2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist, 2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist, and Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
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