Tag: Langston Hughes

These Four Poets Had the Oddest Jobs and You’ll Never Guess What They Were

Famous poets. We only know them for their enchanting verse. Many late great poets didn’t start out writing in verse, or if they did, they had to do something else to support that habit, as they didn’t come from money or fame. Enter some really odd jobs you wouldn’t otherwise expect of young bards.

 

4-Maya Angelou

 

image via amazon

 

Before Maya Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she found a job as a San Francisco streetcar conductor. In fact, she sat every day for two weeks in the office enduring racial slurs from the secretaries until the hiring manager finally yielded and gave her the position. She became the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco. What’s more, she was only sixteen-years-old!

 

3-Robert Frost

 

image via amazon

 

Robert Frost, who wrote the infamous poem, The Road Not Taken, had a very dangerous job in his twenties called light trimming where he stood over active machinery on a wobbly ladder undoing arc lamps from the ceiling in order to repair them. Fortunately, he kept writing and his poetry gained so much notoriety he didn’t have to go back to light trimming ever again.

 

2- Langston Hughes

image via amazon

 

Langston Hughes was a very musical poet closely associated with jazz and the Harlem Renaissance. One of his most well-known books is Montage of a Dream Deferred. But before any of his work gained attention he was a student at Columbia University and held jobs such as busboy, cook, launderer, and even a seaman. Being a seaman inspired one of his poems, “Death of an Old Seaman Cecil Cohen.” It proves not all manual labor is meaningless if it leads to great art.

 

1- T.S. Eliot

 

image via amazon

 

Last but not least, T.S. Eliot, famous for his incredibly depressing 20th-century oeuvre, “The Waste Land.” He rocked a bowler hat for his odd job, which was not so odd but actually a nine to five clerk position at a bank called Lloyd’s in London. He even got two-weeks-a-year vacation time just like every other working stiff employed there. Not much to say about this sad man except, cool hat.

 

 

Poets get a reputation for being odd considering a lot of them, well, are. Some of them make their own jam, some are recluses, some are too obscure in their writing, meaning they are purposefully trying to be misunderstood. This group of poets, however, were pretty candid in their work as they wanted to be understood. They received high praise, too. Robert Frost was the 1958 Poet Laureate and won more than several Pulitzer Prizes, Langston Hughes won a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, Maya Angelou earned more than 30 honorary degrees, and T.S. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Consider checking their work out and remember, they’re speaking from experience. Even if it was odd.

 

 

Featured Image Via HollyWood Reporter

 

 


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