In William Matthews' poem, "Job Interview", he writes about a ritual that almost all of us have gone through - possibly many times. What might be poetic about the question and answer and speaking of "fluent Fog" that constitutes an interview?
thinks of literature. Quite natural for a professor of English
being interviewed by "committee" to slip off to
think about Byron, Petrach and sonnets.
I suppose you may have your own job interview tale to tell. No? Perhaps, like me, you are taken with his opening line's question: "Where do you see yourself five years from now?" This interview (and job review) standard question is generally not asked very seriously. A way of feeling out the candidate. Who answers, "Not here" but someone in a poem? But it is perhaps the key question for anyone sitting in the hot seat.
So tell us a tale. Interview someone, or yourself. Maybe answer the key question.
What does poetry mean to you?
the editor asks by e-mail.
No smiley face to wink the question.
I guess he expects something
in good straightforward English
that fits on a 2-column page.
I'll tell him poetry means
the blink that blinds intention.
The first section of a fugue
without music. The rose
whose fragrance still eludes,
into the next phrase, a darker
language whose thunder-
grumble the question and
smudge the ink of his Review,
long after the brilliant
I might wish to give.
THE FURTHER ADVICE OF MUSIC
My advice given
to the somber smiling newlyweds-
My beautiful daughter of scarlet wavy locks and her young balding blond husband-
"Sing a song
to each other each morning
of each your days
'Every day with Jesus
is sweeter than the day before
Every day with Jesus
I love him more and more'
Then discover to each other
whether it is a personal truth you are singing- or just a small and pretty song
If you'll but sing
It will work its magic
So sing and sing and sing."
I got this job through a temp agency
The money wasn't good enough for me
But I gotta eat
I wake up just to get up and work
Even if it's just on my own nerves
I sit at that computer
Making spreadsheets and sipping coffee
I can hear the interviewer saying
Over and over again playing in my head
Would you like a challenging position?
I don't think she would have liked my answer
Or maybe she would have
But I took the job
It wasn't very far from home
And soon hopefully
I would at least stop robbing Peter to pay Paul
For my bills
I took the basic skills test and passed
As if I didn't know that I would
Get the position
Through a temp agency
Where the money is still not good enough for me
But I gotta eat, wake up
Yes! I want a challenging position
And I am still here.
that I live for the sound of rain
on the window,
for a walk in the spring,
for Mozart's "Figaro" singing
in the living room,
for--in the end--the Silence
beyond daily noise.
that one person's story beats
a statistic, a proposal,
a five-year plan.
that Mozart knew more
than I know, more than They know;
he transformed silence into song.
They frown. One drums his fingers
on the table.
I should answer Their questions.
Yes, I know the value of money
and its cost; yes, risk and uncertainty
walk hand in hand.
In five years?
I predict creation, expanding the story.
I will listen, still.
Yes, I plan to embrace risk,
different from what They ask.
We have reached the Finale
--the End. No encore.
There once was a sailor man
Introduced to me by a friend.
Tell me your history I asked,
Who you've known and where you've been.
Around the world more than once he claimed
Chomping on his meerschaum pipe.
But the ocean is a hard life and
I've had more than my share.
I have the urge to settle down,
Drive a car and plant a garden.
I need a driver I explained and
Gardening is best done by two for company.
If you'll be an intern for three months,
With the possibility of a permanent position,
The job is yours.
William Matthews, prolific poet, editor and lecturer, was professor of English at The City College for 14 years and also served as director of the creative writing program. He published his first book of poetry in 1970. Nine others followed during his lifetime, including Time & Money, which received the 1996 National Book Critics Circle award for poetry. He won the Modern Poetry Association's 1997 Ruth Lilly Award. He was a former chairman of the literature panel of the National Endowment for the Arts and a former president of the Poetry Society of America . William Matthews died on November 12, 1997, the day after his fifty-fifth birthday. After All was published posthumously.
From Publishers Weekly
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