In the Po’ Biz


                It’s hard out here for the poets; I tell you, it’s a lonely and discouraging world for those of us who want to make careers in creative writing, and harder still for the ones who write poetry. I can’t imagine not having company along the way. In fact, I don’t think I’d even try if I didn’t have such a wonderful network of friends and support. One can indeed make a career as a poet and a writer in this way, by drawing on the guidance and camaraderie of the people we come across in classes, workshops, readings, and conferences. I still keep in touch with professors and friends from my undergraduate writing days, and have managed to keep many of the people I met through my MFA in my life on a daily basis. Of course I would not be nearly the writer or woman I am now had it not been for the vast spread of support, kindness, and love I have received from the community of people I know through the Whidbey Writers Workshop.

Thinking back on my MFA days, I am inspired to give a shout-out to my original MFA cohort, my Po’ Biz BFF, and my 20-Day-Per-Year-Best-Buddies-Tour partner, Caleb Barber. Though Caleb and I could have easily become each other’s arch nemesis after being stuck together as the only two poetry students in the program for a whole year, we managed to do otherwise. I owe a great deal of my early writing progress to Caleb, and loved every snark-filled minute of our studies together. I also owe him many thanks for grabbing the sleeve of my jacket and not allowing me to be blown away by the fierce Whidbey Island winds during a winter storm–just one of the many adventures we filled with giggles and subsequent joint pantoums. I am quite proud to see Caleb find success in the recent release of his first collection of poems, Beasts and Violins.

Though I was fortunate enough to see most of these poems grace my desk or computer screen in one form or another over the years, none has become familiar reading territory because with Caleb’s writing, there is always some previously undiscovered nugget of literary wit hidden in a line break or subversive ending. He writes about everyday life well, and he writes it plainly, but Caleb’s work is never commonplace. I won’t make any of the usual comparisons of Caleb’s work to that of the many great names that have come before him; anyone who reads Caleb’s poetry and appreciates it for the fine craftsmanship it exemplifies, will already make those connections on their own.

For those of you who, like me, enjoy taking sideways glances at life, this collection of poetry is vital. Buy it, love it, and ask Caleb to sign it.

2 thoughts on “In the Po’ Biz

  1. Writers, follow Tanya’s example and keep those contacts. Not only will they help you out when you seek to have your own work published, but if they’re in the business of nurturing young writers, chances are they’re really nice people.

  2. I will definitely check out Calebs book. And when you say, “It’s hard out here for the poets; I tell you, it’s a lonely and discouraging” I can’t agree more, but at least it makes life that much sweeter knowing we’re doing something that can make us smile and uplift us in ways we never thought possible.

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