Every year in Flagstaff, there is an event known as Tequila Sunrise. For many students, this event means taking a break from studying, drinking socially, and generally having fun with their friends. For many bartenders, this event means being awake obscenely early, working extra hours, and cleaning up vomit. As you can imagine, I was glad to clock out on Tequila Sunrise. After about eleven hours of work, the plan was to go home and have about eleven days of sleeping, but we all know about the best laid plans. I was called back into work. As I came in and started serving people, I vowed that I wouldn’t be happy. My day was exceedingly unpleasant, so I was going to be exceedingly unpleasant. I started to look around and mock the people I was serving in my head. There were a startlingly large number of scarves, big hats, and unconventional hairstyles. I wrote it off as weird people being weird. It wasn’t until another bartender working in a different part of the building asked, “Hey how’s the slam thing going?” that I realized exactly who I was dealing with. Poets.That same day, the Individual World Poetry Slam had its finals, and this was the after party. Ugh. Suddenly, all of the unconventional garb and emoting very loudly at one another made sense. On top of dealing with belligerently drunk students all day, now I had to deal with the weirdest brand of people to ever walk the earth: slam poets. I didn’t really have any experience with slam poetry, let alone slam poets, but I had already decided that I was going to be petulant all shift and there was no going back. My only evidence for this assertion was the reputation that poets have for being verbose and just generally weird all the time. I set out to collect evidence to support my belief so that I could tell everyone later just what it is weird poets do, and I discovered something shocking:

Poets are people.

I know, I was surprised too, but as it turns out poets have all of the same mannerisms that normal people do. They eat, drink, talk, laugh, and I even suspect that some of them sleep (though I didn’t actually see that). The important distinction between these poets especially is that they are always on the clock. When I go to work, I clock in, I make about 1834 whiskey cokes, I clock out, and I go home. Being a bartender has very little bearing on the rest of my life. For me, bartending is a job, not a passion. On the 15th, I served people who live and breathe poetry. As the night wore on, it became increasingly clear to me that, while a lot of these people make and recite poetry as a job, all of them make and recite poetry to make sense of the world around them. The result is that, as professional writers, these poets are always on the clock. What’s more, these people seemed happy to be poets even when they didn’t need to be, and it made me wonder: How can I find a job that helps me make sense of exceedingly unpleasant days? How can I be more like those poetry weirdos?

Photo credit: Visit AZ

#poetry #flagstaff

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