A comparison of prose and prose poetry on losing my job.
|Assignment for Lesson 1, Part One: The Nature of Poetry
Write for 15 - 20 minutes on an incident from your past.
Surplus to requirements
I was stunned. I had only worked at Northern Dairies for a few short months.
It was the early sixties. Through the worst winter in memory, with eight weeks of snow and ice, I had made it in to work every day, sometimes walking the two miles, when the buses weren't running. All to make sure the milk returns were done.
Progress, they called it. An automated system to record the milk returns. It didn't give me much progression! I was out of a job!
My mother would be furious with me. She was bound to think that I had done something wrong to get the sack and she had a fierce temper. I dragged my feet as I walked homeward from the bus stop. An extra week's wages in lieu was not going to pacify her.
When I turned my key in the lock she was waiting for me in the hall, looking distracted. My Nana had had a small stroke several weeks before and was in hospital.
"Your Nana is on the mend. They want to discharge her from hospital but she can't go home on her own. I don't know what to do. We could have her here, but I will have to give up my job and I don't know if they will hold it open for me or not".
I told her my news.
"I could look after Nana and you wouldn't have to give up your work. I can look for a job when she improves".
Mum was sceptical.
"What do you know about nursing? It will be very hard work".
"I don't mind hard work and I can follow instructions. I love my Nana and will do my best for her. Go on, Mum, let me have a go at this. I might like it and decide to become a nurse".
"Get away with you, you'd never stick it!"
She was right. Looking after Nana was six weeks hard labour. I didn't mind doing it, but was glad when she improved enough to enable me to return to a less strenuous occupation.
Assignment for Lesson 1, Part 2: The Nature of Poetry
From your writing, create a prose poem expressing your feelings about the incident.
Surplus to requirements
Stunned! Shunned! Services no longer needed, after
just a few short months. Through bitter snow and ice,
everyday I made it in. The worst winter I had known
could not stop the vital juice. But here was I, reduced
to indolence and sloth. Progress marching on
crushing all beneath its feet.
And mother to appease.
Her temper and reproach would be ringing in my ears
before the day was out, of that there was no doubt.
She was waiting in the hall but, she wasn't cross at all,
for my Nana needed caring for and I could do the job.
No need to sob or worry. I could hold my head up high.
Assignment for Lesson 1, Part 3: The Nature of Poetry
Discuss the two forms
This is the hard bit.
The prose was easy to write. As my memory was triggered the incident became clearer in my mind.
I thought I was fairly concise in my prose writing until I started condensing it into more 'poetic' language. The dialogue seemed unnecessary for the poem.
I feel the poem has more impact, although it is less detailed. It highlights the emotional effect that this incident had on me and brought it back to me more strongly than the prose.
I have also written the following 'Rhyming Couplets' version of the poem.
She sat upon the plastic seat, her thoughts were far away.
How could she tell her mother she had lost her job that day.
They hadn't got a lot of cash. They needed ever bit
To keep starvation from their door, to keep the home fires lit.
Tears ran down her chilly cheek which rested on the glass
While the rain ran down the outside and mirrored where they'd pass.
She dragged her feet along the path, sorrow weighed her down.
Reluctantly she reached the door where mother would be found.
Her mother looked up at the sound as the key turned in the lock.
Her reaction to the awful news was really quite a shock.
"It's just as well. You can stay home and tend your poor ill Nan.
We need someone to nurse her for a few weeks, if you can."
So what had seemed disastrous was a blessing in disguise.
"I can help both you and Nan." were her heartfelt cries.
Though she no longer had a job she wasn't unemployed.
Nursing kept her occupied, overworked and overjoyed.
(C) 2013 Terri Richardson
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