Poetry jobs aren’t exactly plentiful. And yet two recent stories tell of poets who’ve found unique ways to make a living with their art.
First is Ariane Cyusa. She was working as a nurse when she discovered she could write poems that helped people cope.
That’s when she started a business called Feel and Heal Poetry, a full-service poetry business.
Through Feel and Heal Poetry, Cyusa delivers poems written for individuals and provides personal writing lessons. Cyusa also hosts writing workshops.
Cyusa quit her nursing job. She now runs Feel and Heal Poetry full time.
Maybe most surprising about Cyusa’s story is that she didn’t learn English until she came to the U.S. when she was 11. She previously lived in Russia and Rwanda.
As an adult, Cyusa overcame homelessness and alcoholism to become a nurse. And now she’s a self-employed poet.
Poetry Jobs: Waffle House Poet Laureate
The story is a little different for Karen Head. She’s had conventional poetry jobs. For example, she teaches poetry at Georgia Tech.
But Head is now fulfilling a unique role. She’s the poet laureate for the diner chain Waffle House.
Head became Waffle House’s poet laureate because she wanted to help make rural teenagers in Georgia more aware of college.
So she proposed to the Waffle House Foundation, the nonprofit wing of the company: She would travel to 12 rural Georgia high schools and share her story of being a first-generation college student.
The Foundation agreed to fund her proposal.
“They agreed to fund my idea and mailed me a Waffle House nametag with an official title, Waffle House Poet Laureate,” Head said.
Head herself used to write poetry in Waffle Houses, but she doesn’t do it as much anymore.
“Now that I’m in my 50s, I’m much more easily distracted,” Head said.