This morning I received my replacement copy of John Kulm’s story and poetry book, The Five Stages of Quitting Farming. It’s out of print, but used copies are floating about - thankfully, since it’s one of those books I give to folks going through career transitions.
Back in 2000, while I was a City Lore staffer, I met John, a poet and ex-farmer from Chinook, WA. He was one of dozens of folk poets we brought into NYC to perform at our Peoples’ Poetry Gathering.
Cowboys, miners, sailors, fishers and farmers all have a long tradition of poetry. As folklorist Jens Lund says, “the challenges and rewards of these people’s difficult, dangerous work were often best expressed in the form of folk poetry—the occasion poet…the occupational poet.” Their poems are part entertainment, part protest, part therapy.
I wonder what John thinks of the new wave of back-to-the-landers and the consciousness around industrial food production. Is he hopeful?
I am, even though the struggles of family farming are still too close for comfort. Two Idaho PowerBall lottery tickets were stuck inside this used copy, guess I’m not the only one.
be nimble, m