30 days of prompts: day 11
& recommendations, & drama, & tweets, & insights into my ongoing emotional breakdown
Here’s what I have for you today:
Disclaimer: It’s a long one—so you’ll want to open this email in a new window to get to the end.
Day 11: Prompt
Write a poem about gender.
This could be about your own gender, or it could address another gender.
Here are some great poetry collections in which gender is a central theme:
Here are some poems that look at gender:
Does anyone in the Bay have a nail artist they love? I want to try being femme. 💅
I love a good hot take. Side note: I just *have* to be the most powerful blonde in the room at any given time.
What I’m reading:
Netflix’s Bad Habits Have Caught Up With It (you may need to open in incognito browser to avoid the paywall)
Leslie Jamison on the Role of the Graspy Grad Student in Midsommar (I love!!!!!!!!! discourse on Midsommar!!!!!!!)
Truly tapping out of a system as sprawling and all-encompassing as our economic one is uncomfortable, to say the least. It's why I find arguments that critique people (usually women) for not doing enough to “address” or “resist” capitalism, a bit awkward. We are all part of the so-called ~system~.
Fuck. I’m actually going to get ~a little personal.~
As you can see (from what I’m reading, from what I’m quoting), I’ve been thinking quite a lot about economics, and income, and making a living. I’ve been tasked to make a really difficult decision—and I have seven days to decide whether to 1) earn my PhD and, almost inevitably, pursue a career in academia1 or 2) search for a (more immediately stable, probably higher paying, and certainly less competitive) career elsewhere.2
Now, I love school. Even with a teaching assistantship & a full load of classes & a part-time teaching job elsewhere, it leaves me with ample free time to rest & pursue other interests. And it’s free money, sort of—the school gives you thousands of dollars per year to teach a little, but mostly just to be a Good Writer & ideally/eventually bring positive publicity to the university by publishing books & winning prizes & etc. etc.
I certainly like that going to more school would mean not having to worry about applying & getting a Proper Job for at least another three years. I’ve been trying to secure a job-that-will-lead-to-a-career for almost a year and a half now. It’s not easy & it’s not fun.3
Hard as it is, continuing my endless search for a decent job might *still* be easier than trying to find a tenure-track position in academia 4-5 years from now, though, even with a PhD in hand. With recent articles out like “The Bleak Job Landscape of Adjunctopia for Ph.D.s,” “The future is bleak for academics,” “Graduate students face bleak job market,” & “The Job Market for Young Academics Was Already Bleak—Then the Pandemic Hit,” it’s hard to argue the logic of pursuing a career in academia.
& yet I’ve eschewed logic before. Whenever my parents express concern that I decided to earn a master’s degree in creative writing—particularly in poetry, of all things4—I assure them that I wasn’t deluding myself that life would be easy post-graduation. I *knew* pursuing poetry wasn’t a logical (read: economically savvy) decision. I knew it wasn’t logical before I applied. I knew it wasn’t logical before I enrolled. And yet I did it anyway.
And this isn’t to say that a BFA/MFA in creative writing isn’t valuable. I’m glad I did it & I would do it again. It’s just that the reality is that this vocation doesn’t assure you a job or a a clear career path the way that a degree in law or psychology would. It certainly doesn’t assure you a steady income. For the entirety of my adulthood (I’m 25 now), I’ve had to cobble together money for rent & food & gas & car insurance in a dozen different ways, all at once, trying to create some sort of livable life.
& at some point, I do need to look at the logic of it all. So,
here are some articles that have come out in the last three weeks alone:
To that end:
Yes, I will probably decline the offer extended to me by the PhD program. & yes, it’s a choice I’m lucky to actually have to make (rather than program rejections making that decision for me), but I’m still mourning the fact that my future will look different than how I imagined it. I’m still mourning the idea that—despite my love for teaching, my investment in pedagogy, my research, my publications, my writing—any accomplishments I have or gain probably would never be enough to find a secure, well-paying tenure-track position at a “good” university, simply due to the fact that there are so few positions available & so many skilled & talented & educated & qualified & successful people applying for them.
I think I’ll be mourning for a long time.
But enough about me!
& here are some tweets that tickled me:
See you tomorrow with a new prompt.
& catch me here:
& if you feel inclined to help me cobble together said income:
From what I’ve heard: It’s pretty difficult to get a Normal Job once you earn a PhD in something like creative writing or English. Regular employers are confused by your background, which is so academic & theoretical—and it’s difficult for many to teach at the primary- or secondary-level after devoting so much of their lives to higher education & research & all that jazz. Once you’re at the PhD level (in the humanities), it’s pretty difficult to not want a professorship.
I have been having terrible luck with this & want to die. It’s fine.
Max Wolf Valerio: “Poetry is kind of like a force that brings you in—I mean, it’s not a rational decision.”