Thursday 2 October 2014

Writing a Résumé for National Poetry Day

An e-mail arriving from Faber & Faber informed me that today is National Poetry Day and so I went off on a hunt for a poem to post. There is a lot of poetry out there, so it could take a while. Browsing Horoscopes for the Dead by Bill Collins I found a poem that began with a quote from Wislawa Szymborska and I remembered that I had a book of her poetry from long ago. 
So here, from 'View with a Grain of Sand', is the one I chose. Enjoy.

Writing a Résumé

What needs to be done?
Fill out the application
and enclose the résumé.

Regardless of the length of life,
a résumé is best kept short.

Concise, well-chosen facts are de rigueur.
Landscapes are replaced with addresses,
shaky memories give way to unshakeable dates.

Of all your loves, mention only the marriage;
of all your children, only those who were born.

Who knows you matters more than whom you know.
Trips only if taken abroad.
Memberships in what but without why.
Honours, but not how they were earned.

Write as if you'd never talked to yourself
and always kept yourself at arm's length.

Pass over in silence your dogs, cats, birds,
dusty keepsakes, friends, and dreams.

Price, not worth,
and title, not what's inside.
His shoe size, not where he's off to,
that one you pass off as yourself.
In addition, a photograph with one ear showing.
What matters is its shape, not what it hears.
What is there to hear, anyway?
The clatter of paper shredders.


  1. Oh goodness, which poem to choose? There are so many I love dearly. How about Coleridge?

    “Sir, I admit your general rule,
    That every poet is a fool,
    But you yourself may serve to show it,
    That every fool is not a poet.”

    (Not making any insinuations, I just love this poem. :) )

    Or Bradstreet?

    "Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
    Who after birth didst by my side remain,
    Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
    Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
    Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
    Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
    At thy return my blushing was not small,
    My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
    I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
    The visage was so irksome in my sight;
    Yet being mine own, at length affection would
    Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
    I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
    And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
    I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
    Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;
    In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
    But nought save homespun cloth i’ th’ house I find.
    In this array ‘mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.
    In critic’s hands beware thou dost not come,
    And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
    If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
    And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
    Which caused her thus to send thee out of door."

    Or, since you started us on resumes, some Dorothy Parker:

    "Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp.
    Guns aren’t lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live."

    I love poetry. :)

  2. Love Dorothy Parker, thanks for sharing:-)


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