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Journey into Poetry: Jim Wood


Nail Red Thread Journey into Poetry

I have no business writing poetry.

I am a corporate executive whose days are filled with calculus and quantifications, trading and transactions. Truth is, I had always been drawn to artistic endeavors, but the harsh realities of grown-up life herded me into more practical enterprise, eventually revealing gifts in business administration that I never knew existed.

Business can be creative, too. The process of developing something from nothing, envisioning growth and expansion, putting a group of complex variables into a pot and stirring them up to see what comes out the other side – it can be rewarding.

But, for me, it has never been enough.

I have a playlist on my ipod called, “Songs That Kill Me.” It’s a little bit of Kathleen Edwards and Damien Rice and Kate Bush and Ani DiFranco, artists who have this uncanny ability to package up the accumulated detritus of their inner lives – the suffering and chaos and hopefulness – into a perfectly haunting blend of words and instrumentation.

This music routinely chokes me or shakes me or brings me to my knees in a heap, leaving me with a desperate longing for, well, I don’t know what—other than an aching recognition of truth and beauty that exists far beyond the routine inputs and outputs of my business life. It compels me to reach for something more.

I listen to those songs, and they go miles and miles beneath the surface, latching their thick, layered, sticky hooks into the rich soil of unexplored terrain, claiming new territory, staking their flags. Perhaps this is the mapping of my soul.

So I hold up a mirror – something to reflect back my own version of that which I cannot name.

Nature must have her way, and this urgent necessity for artistic expression refuses to remain bottled up. I started writing. Lyrics first, when I was young. Then prose, and now, poetry. I never expected it be all that good, or perfect, or marketable.

It just is.

It’s just me.

The words I write have become a sort of marker for the landscape of my psyche; a tag to locate a piece of myself at some invisible subterranean level, so that I’ll know how to find my way back if ever I am lost.

And who knows? Like those songs on my playlist, maybe they can become a marker for someone else’s soul, too.

Photo by Dsevilla. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by Jim Wood, of the poetry blog And the Other Thing Is.


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Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. L. L. Barkat says:

    I am remembering your very first poem. That night on Twitter. Well, okay, you didn’t know it was a poem, but later I featured it…

    Still love the opening…

    A poem?

    While I’m on
    the line with Dell?

  2. Kelly Sauer says:

    I always wanted to be a poet, but only because I hated reading anything too long. I think your journey in has been more honest than mine, Bradley – and I love your poetic voice.

    Awesome to see you here!

  3. Let me say that Bradley’s poetry is great! It is a voice that is all his.

    Also, I love the title of your playlist! I have one of those, too, but the name is much less creative.

  4. You don’t have any business writing poetry, Bradley. You’re right. It’s not a business.

    Words are markers. I really dig that. We find them poking out of the dirt or etched in stone. Sometimes one blows past us, scratching at the ground, like a dry brown leaf.

    We are marked by our journeys. We are marked by what we chase. And then, in desperation, we will use these words along the way for food, tools and markers to help us find our way home.

    No, poetry isn’t about business, some kind of red and blue billboard with halogen bulbs along the side of the road.

    Poetry is about survival. Boardroom or classroom.

    We follow a leaf. And then find our tree.

  5. Great opening to your essay!

    I’m delighted you’re writing poetry.

    Check out the article in today’s NYT about a person who uses rap in business.

  6. L. L. Barkat says:

    Matthew, I’d say you have a poetic streak in you too. Do you ever write poetry?

    If you post a poem on our “Red” theme and let us know on our T. S. Poetry Press Facebook Wall, we’ll add you to our RoundUp next week. (Poems deadline is Feb 22 :)

  7. Mike Dodaro says:

    I’ve only read a little of your poetry, Bradley, but I’ve read enough of your other writing and interacted with you enough to know that you have a heart that won’t be confined to business calculations. I’m less cynical about business for knowing you.

  8. Thanks for featuring this, LL! And, no, I don’t remember that first tweet poem. What I do remember is you saying that I was writing poetry anwyay, and why not just frame it a little differently? That really opened up some new doors. Thanks for the nudge.

    And, yes, I was also wondering about Matthew’s poetic streak. Waiting on your next poem, Matt!


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