Sometimes, as a full-time artist you find yourself having to pick up other jobs to help pay for bills and expenses, particularly as an artist living in NYC. From 2004-2014 I could proudly check poet on my tax return, but the sustainability of an on the road warrior drawing income from mic checks and onstage balancing acts eventually took a toll (and tolls) on family, friends and relationships.
Of the 20 some-odd jobs I drew income from over the past two years, few were in my field of expertise, many fell at or slightly above minimum wage, but most somehow tied in to my passions and hobbies, and of those that did not, I promised myself I would find a way to incorporate some form of artistry, performing acts of service with a stylized smile, all the while bringing the same positive, laid back and chill attitude I try and bring to everything I do.
I keep searching myself for the real reason I took these seemingly menial jobs for as long as I have and what they may have amounted to, aside from those few dollars more on date nights, a quartet of quarters for laundry day, that fistful of nickels for my next bundle of bananas or that pack of pennies perhaps better placed in fountains following some wish of a starring role, writing that bestseller, or a pick six win.
But the fact remains I ran, jump, biked, kicked, taped, ate, licked, lifted, persisted and silently screamed away from the word for the latest American Dream deferred, trapped myself on the server shelf entangling in the weeds to cobble together earnings every month to pay for basic human needs. And yes I am infinitely grateful for having any work at all during this period in my life, the sometimes struggling people I’ve met along the way and the more refined understanding of how hard some people work for so little. Moonlighting as this toy of employ may have deepened someone else’s pockets, but deepened my appreciation for the blue collar kings and queens that help make the upper crust’s lives easy as pie.
That being said, I am no longer content with chalking it all up to cash and fear, nor chalk-outlining these past experiences to let them die here. Each month I will focus on 1 or 2 of the jobs I (and some of you) have worked in the past as a springboard in creating something big and something new that will help every artist and creative soul out there to not only profit, but thoughtfully incorporate their love and passions into everything I/we/they do…
1. Over the course of January 2015- August 2016 this spoke and word poet, adjusted his seat, inflated his tires, and humbly worked as a bike courier for Postmates and Caviar delivering food and goods to people and businesses around NYC. Of the over 500 deliveries completed, not many people know that I would also occasionally write undercover poetry for unsuspecting consumers on the backs of receipts and notecards. I would then slip the missives into the bags in hopes of giving the customer some needed nourishment for the soul with that extra side of surprise. As a result, I am compiling an anthology of food related poetry and prose, a Delivery Digest if you will featuring the work of cooks, couriers, and consumers. Over the next two weeks you can submit via the following link:
The top 50 submissions will be included in Volume 1. For the first few months of publication, the only way people can order the book is through personal delivery by one of it’s talented authors. The book will arrive signed and feature a live performance of at least one of the included pieces with a portion of the proceeds going directly to the author plus full amount of tips. Submit your more performative poems, entertaining stories (500 words or less), song lyrics, and more.