Skip to content

Poet on the Page

Poet on the Page

I encountered a curious situation this week. I need to write a CV for a short-term work placement. Since I can’t see how it looks on the page I think I’m going to pay a CV writing service to produce one for me. As I think about what needs to go onto a CV, I realise my adult life falls into two very discrete segments, in poetic rhyming parlance, AABA — or Before Blindness and After Blindness

The path was dark but I was bold
eyes ablaze I fearlessly strode;
until vision dried up
as had long been foretold.

Before and After Blindness

Before blindness I was a transportation planner. Very handily this involved a lot of writing strategy documents, reports and correspondence, not a million miles from the poetic writing life I now live. Since the life of a wandering minstrel is essentially not a paid position, does it belong on a CV?

If it were a writer’s CV I needed that would be fine ... I’ve written those for various things before. The problem is that I need a kind of hybrid CV that can work for a run-of-the-mill desk job as well as for a writing job. My biggest problem isn’t in what goes into my CV, it’s how it looks on the page.

Template Trouble

Tutors and publishers have helped me with templates that I can use as the starting point for any document I need to write. The problem is, in my hands, when I add words to the blank documents they seem to get possessed — margins, fonts and line spacing all seem to go haywire. For example:

  • Using a document template that I’ve had for a while, the transcription centre at my university kindly sorted out the margins since this had been commented on when I used the document for my end of module assignments. I suspect the original had been intended for poetry, where wider margins are sometimes needed. The revised template had narrower margins and no first line indent ... apparently;
  • I submitted a poem to a Poetry School course run by poet Jonathan Edwards two weeks ago. In his feedback to my first piece he said, ‘I like this very much. I enjoy the highly distinctive form, with the indentations. They make the poem memorable.’ If only I was trying for a distinctive form with artistic indents! It appears the first line indents have not gone away!
  • In the end of module assignment for Poetry 1, the tutor commented that, ‘I should mention, only in the event that you intend to lift these pieces for presentation elsewhere that it seems the MS paperclip has decided to fiddle with your indentations and made a good number of the stanzas into paragraphs. The line breaks survive, it’s just that the indentation is curious. On my honour, it has not affected the mark.’ Again, those dastardly indents!
  • Not an indent problem but something I should have realised. When I submitted a poem to the Live Canon International Poetry Competition in 2016, a poem that made the shortlist and was in with a chance of winning the £1,000 first prize, as my dad was reading the competition anthology he asked if there was a reason my poem was formatted, ‘like that’. I’d managed to submit it fully justified rather than left aligned on the page.

This is why, whenever I can, I submit my poems in plain text format, .txt. That means there are no indents to worry about, no text alignment problems, no line spacing problems. Sadly, for attaching a CV to a job application I suspect not being able to attach it in Word might raise questions about my skills using Microsoft Office. That is why I’m going to pay a CV service to sort my document out. They can decide what balance of work experience and poetic info to use. They can make sure it looks professional on the page. In my sighted days I’d have been mortified to think I needed to pay somebody to format my Word documents but, now I’m blind, it’d be daft not to. I will be doing so with my end of module assignments and final dissertation, and starting with paying a firm to format my CV.

#Poetry #CurriculumVitae #DocumentFormatting #MSWord #Margins

Published inblindnesscompetitions and submissionsPoetrytechnology


  1. Frances Browner Frances Browner

    Gosh, good luck with this Giles. I’m glad there is a CV service for you. Thanks for sharing with us all of the difficulties you meet on your journey, most we would never think of. (BTW some of your blog posts have gone into my spam.)

  2. Giles Giles

    Thanks, Frances! The best way to deal with my blog posts going into your spam is to mark them as not spam so the algorithm lets them go into your inbox by default. There was a message on one of my blind groups requesting that people do not mark messages as spam in order to make them not appear in the inbox by defult … the spam systems are with the email service so it’s not really anything that the blog writer can do anything about (it’s not like I post about spam offers like Russian women who want to marry English men or thousands of blog posts for as little as $1) … I know in my gmail if something goes into my spam folder I can select it and hit a button that says Not Spam and then it moves back into my inbox and doesn’t get flagged as spam to Google 🙂 xx

  3. Susan Susan

    Interesting what happens to your writing in a template. You need a constant proof-reader. =)

    I think, since you have made money with the writing and speaking, that those need to be on the CV. It accounts for time you haven’t had a regular job, for one thing, not leaving huge gaps, and you don’t have to say how little or how much you earned, or time you spent. Just list “poetry publishing” and “poetry performances” with years like 2017-2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Giles L. Turnbull · All rights reserved

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: