Poet and Copyeditor Sarah Suksiri on Finding Creative Challenge

Poet Sarah Suksiri can be defined by grace–she crosses the street with grace, she offers insight into conversation with graceful, well-chosen words, and her poems are also grace- and wonder-filled. Once, I witnessed Sarah crash her car gently into an A/C unit with grace (which she also managed to un-dent with a swift kick). If you have not yet been graced with a Sarah Suksiri poem, you can listen to her read three poems here.

A little while ago, I asked her about her new job as a copywriter and her life as poet. This is what she said:

In the past two years I’ve started noticing a pattern. A lot happened — marriage, moving, graduating, moving again, several jobs. Whenever one of those changes occurred, there was a spike in my writing. So I think change and movement play an important role in writing, which, if you think about it, is usually either about revisiting the places we’ve left or trying to discover where we are now. For me, getting too comfortable generally kills my writing.

In those moments of change/realization, I write poems. Revision’s role in my writing is primarily manifested in the ever-present question, “Is this any good yet?” But beyond that, I don’t apply a very empirical revision method.

So, tell us about your new job

I have a job I love at a creative agency, where I write copy. Any full-time desk job presents a challenge at the end of the day when time and brainpower are running on reserve, but what I like about being a copywriter (besides being paid to play with language) is learning how to approach writing strategically. You sit down at your desk, and people expect results by the end of the day. It’s hard, sometimes, to expect that of myself. I read somewhere that Salman Rushdie credits his years as a copywriter for helping him develop good, professional writing habits.

I know your path to this particular agency wasn’t quite smooth. Can you tell about that journey ?
 I looked for teaching jobs out of grad school, but nothing materialized. I stumbled into copywriting from a critical, editorial, creative, and journalistic writing background, and copywriting seemed like a terrific fusion of those experiences. With that goal in mind, several months of job applications and a little bit of desperation led me to take a copywriting job that wasn’t right for me (I felt there was a lack of creative challenge and direction), but in hindsight, it opened doors and taught me so much of what has led me to a good job in a good place with good people.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @ahoysarah, and you can find more of Sarah’s work in lit mags in print and online– like this poem entitled “How to Write a Poem” that was published in Punchnel’s.


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