Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poet's Spotlight: Life Through Broken Pens

Where do unrepentant poets go for rehab
When words insist on flowing through their brains like spiced rum,
Lost in smoke, scrawling mad meanderings while trawling for attention?

~Jack V. Sage

Terre Haute hardcore poet Walter Thomas Beck III provides a must-have antidote to the apathy bred from a life hooked into the Internet, the 21st century's version of the idiot box. In his 30-page chapbook, "Life Through Broken Pens" Beck expresses a desire to have poetry scribbled in public bathroom stalls, carved into the sides of park benches and spray-painted on alley walls. He wants to see poetry performed live, "with the zeal and lust of hellfire preachers."

Beck grabs the reader by the throat from the very first word of the very first poem in the chapbook, forcing a confrontation with the status quo. Beck's poem, "Revolution Summer" leads the pride parade, extolling the virtues of fifth-column activism on behalf of freaks and misfits. Beck weaves the daily frustrations of trying to "conform or be cast out" into battle hymns, using poetry as both sword and shield.

In "To Live as an American" he urges the reader to "challenge and question all authority, even if you agree with it" as an expression of ultimate patriotism, and includes Hunter S. Thompson, Allen Ginsberg and Robert Mapplethorpe in his list of patriots, making them coequal with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

Beck's scathing condemnation of "the joys of ignorance" and the "patriotic and biblical duty of absolute obedience" in his poem "Family Education" will sail past many people's heads, but if just one reader finds the inspiration to question "the hard reality of corruption and brutality" and joins the social radicals and outlaws, he will be thrilled at the success.

As if having his poetry published just in time for his birthday was not thrilling enough, Beck opted to use a portion of the proceeds from each sale to support HOPE House in Phoenix, Arizona. HOPE House supports the transgender community by providing housing and other services to people in transition. Run by Michael Eric Brown and his wife, Lillian, HOPE House provides the stability and safety that make successful transition possible.

Order "Life Through Broken Pens" today!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who's Watching You?

You never know when a potential employer might be watching you, as I learned this past Friday. Fortunately, I had been doing my job with verve and gusto since day one, getting as fully-involved and pulling as much enjoyment out of sign-waving as I possibly could.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that the job they are doing does not matter if it doesn't pay much, doesn't require any education, or requires wearing a uniform or costume. These are the people who think of their jobs as dead ends. They show up late for work, leave early, do as little as they can to get by and collect their paycheck. They don't concern themselves with the health of the company. They treat the job like a chain around their ankle instead of using it as a platform to showcase their potential.

Waving a sign while wearing a costume is not a job that many would even consider doing. Driving traffic into a business is the first step to its ability to thrive, however. Done well, sign-waving causes potential customers to associate your business with having fun, getting things done without a hassle, and being treated with dignity and respect. A waver who smiles, dances and greets everyone, either by making eye contact with drivers and passengers or by speaking with everyone who passes by on foot establishes rapport before your customer ever decides whether to use your services.

A business owner came up to me this week, gave me his card and told me he had been watching me work over the past three months. He complimented my enthusiasm, commitment, attendance and the way I treated people and said that he wanted me to consider working for him. I was both floored and relieved, since the waving job is due to end on April 17 and I had not yet nailed down my next job. So on Monday, I have an interview to decide what my duties in that new position will entail, and to figure out how to fit the new schedule around my current one.

So don't be afraid to give a so-called "dead-end" job your all. You never know who's watching and where it might lead.