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Royal Bath Taker.
Receiver of Foot Rubs and Praise.
Good Samaritan Emeritus.
Undersecretary of Trivial Pursuits.
Chief Executive Napper.
Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom of Spring.
Procurer of Unnecessary Hats.
Empress of Ice Cream.
Inspector General of Minor Slights.
Bubble Blower to the Stars.
Suzanne Buffam’s “Dream Jobs” first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of The Walrus, selected by Poetry In Voice Creative Director Damian Rogers in her role as poetry editor there.
- This is a funny poem, but some of the jokes won’t land if you don’t catch the references. For example, what does “emeritus” mean? And how does that word work alongside titles like “Ingenue” or “Good Samaritan”? If any of the terms are unfamiliar, look them up!
- What’s the tone of this poem? Where are there hints that there are some dark shadows behind the laughs? Do you read it as snide or sad? Or both?
- This poem uses a lot of multi-syllabic words — how does this affect the rhythm and feel of the poem?
- “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” is a famous poem by Wallace Stevens. What does the poet suggest by changing the gender of this title?
- If you were going to recite this poem, would you play for laughs, or would you play it straight?
- Write a list poem of called “Jobs From Hell” (Suzanne Buffam has done this as well, and “Ingenue Emeritus” is tellingly on that list as well). Use your imagination and make up jobs that don’t exist, as Buffam has here.
Read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, which inspired Suzanne’s poem “Dream Jobs”: https://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic787484.files/eas97ab_pillowb...
Check out this poem video of another poem by Suzanne Buffam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl6NtD4VtZs