Service Job Poetics

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the issues that exist within the service industry, particularly the ways in which class and race intersect in workplaces where the employees make minimum wage, or close to it.  I’ve been writing poems about the oppressive atmosphere of the service job, and how working with other people creates a hierarchy of value between humans.  To me, the ways we treat other people when we’re the privileged party really highlights the underlying hierarchies we have in place in corporate  America.  I really want to include poems like “crazy uncle floyd” in a larger group of critical American poetry, but I’m wondering if maybe these two subjects exist as separate themes?  I mean, a demeaning service economy isn’t only a part of daily life in the USA, it exists as a larger part of the capitalist machine.  At the risk of sounding preachy, I do want to broach this topic in my poetry, and I’m wondering if poems like “crazy uncle floyd” belong in that group, maybe as a beginning or an end?  Is it easy to draw from “crazy uncle floyd” ideas about the widening gap between rich and poor, the American working class, etc? Does the poem stand alone well enough that companion pieces drawing on similar topics seem superfluous?

One Reply to “Service Job Poetics”

  1. Nicole,
    I think companion pieces would help to really focus in on some of the wide range of ideas coming from that poem. I do however want to highlight how much Native American imagery you used and so I wouldn’t want you to put that by the way side. I think that there are a lot of ideas focusing around food and if you wanted to talk about the food revolution that started this ideas we have of servers you could research white corn which is the original state the corn was grown here before Europeans arrived. I think you and I were once talking about how serving culture can kind of see its roots from slavery culture and the idea of needing to be served. I think this also really connects with Native American ideals because Native Americans don’t have this idea about food and the food is grown here and their diets changed because they were moved. I have some essays for you if you’re interested! Also I think that “crazy uncle floyd” would either need to be a beginning, centerfold, or ending piece. Because it’s a direct address it needs to be treated accordingly. LETS SEE THAT COLLECTION!

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