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Night Shift: Poets on Work

Edited by Miriam Goodman

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"Truck with Silos" : A Photo of Boston's Big Dig © Miriam Goodman.

This collection was assembled for a poetry writing workshop that would make work the subject of a bunch of formal experiments and imitations. Poems in Night Shift focus on the landscape of work; the voices we hear at work; conflicts between worker and boss, individuals and groups; and civic, social and psychological issues. Some poems dramatize how we cope with the negative aspects of work, others how we enjoy positive work — work that connects us to, rather than separates us from nature, work that connects the individual and humanity.

Work has come into its own as a subject of contemporary poetry — something I didn't know would happen when I first made my new corporate life the subject of my poems. I was a thirty-something single mother; I looked for work to support me, my children, and my writing. The software industry took me in as a writer and teacher — work I'm still doing thirty years later. Reading other poets' job experiences and attitudes toward working has been, through the years, a companionship I sought and increasingly find plenty of company in, although work has been a subject of English poetry for a long time. This anthology is brief, the subject, large. I hope it serves to whet your appetite for continued reading and — for those who want to tackle work as subject — for exploration in writing.

— Miriam Goodman

Foreword: "The Office Microcosm," Michael Casey

"At Forty Doing the Work," Keith Althaus
"Poem of the Dump Sticker Salesman," Keith Althaus
"Womanhood," Catherine Anderson
"Dylan's Fault," Robin Becker
"The Company Pool," Michael Casey
"The Year of Minimum Wage," Guillermo Castro
"Seven Day Diary," Alan Dugan
"Beauty," B.H. Fairchild
"The Women Who Clean Fish," Erica Funkhouser
"The Man in the Open Doorway," Dana Gioia
"In Defense of Desire," Miriam Goodman
"For Alexis," Rodney Jones
"Kalighat Hospice," Marilyn Krysl
"On Digging Out Old Lilacs," Maxine Kumin
"Fish Soup Man," Agnes Lam
"Hooks," Peter Martin
"From the Same Cloth," Helena Minton
"Working the Rice," Aimee Nezhukumatathil
"The Trade of Escape," Elaine Sexton
"In the Bindery," Elaine Terranova
"Broom," Cornelia Veenendaal

Afterword: "A Spy in the House of Commerce," Dana Gioia

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