The Poet in the Lobby

Howdy! I’m Crystal Good one of your 2018 E-council Lobbyist. I’m also an entrepreneur, a Mom, an avid hula hooper and a poet. Some of you my might know me from a poem I wrote Boom Boom – about a stripper and a strip mine:

Let me introduce myself by sharing how a poet like me becomes a lobbyist by asking – What’s the difference you between a Poet and Lobbyist?

One, might say the paycheck.

Others – like me – not much.

Both sustain their livelihood in the craft of communication – both require rewrites, strikethrough and amendments to improve. Periods and commas in the wrong place can get your bill or poem rejected – on an editor’s technicality.

In poems and as in legislative bills – occasionally the original was better than the updated edited version (see last year’s West Virginia Senate Bill 360) and sometimes the edited version is better than the original. Each poem and legislative bill requires interpretation and contemplation – debate and presentation to make it – legal and or ready.

As a poet, I look for words and forms that will allow me to express myself or an idea. Often the success of a poem is measured in if I am able to inspire a particular emotion: laughter, tears, confusion, anger, joy, etc. Sometimes the success of a poem is my own joy and pleasure.
Sometimes the poem is performed or published.

In poetry aka human relations or government relations aka lobby each profession requires a dedication to practice the craft, to give and receive apprenticeship, to self-study and, most of all a willingness to risk – rejection.

Political Poet or Poetic Lobbyist?

My poetry has often been labeled political. I argue that all poetry is political. My poetry has often been accused of being “environmental, eco-feminist, pro-Appalachian/West Virginian equally, anti-Appalachia and ‘race’ related.”

I have branded myself Affrilachian (African American Appalachian) in partnership with others who wear this identity. You could say I have been so called “lobbying” for Affrilachia for 15 years by sharing my poetry and speaking about the word, its place and mine in it. Affrilachia is one of my social issues. We all have our issues.

All poets and all lobbyists represent issues. Some poets and some lobbyists represent several issues. Then there are those who represent only ONE issue as poets and lobbyists. Those are the lobbyist and poets you don’t see going off path – be that coal issues or race issues.

Poetry and “Government Relations” both demand a definition of who I am, who I represent – this allows people to assign a particular value to who my friends are, how many votes do I represent/ or how many books can I sell? There is always a body count – be that your audience or your constituency.

In both professions, I am aware. I find my passion inside the business and curiosity of language in being authentic while playing these very adult games.

The Lexicon Of Legislation

When I sit in a committee meeting, I listen as a poet for the economy and trickery of language. I am always fascinated at how language is debated in these rooms. Often a single sentence can take hours or days of discussion. (Example: Forced pooling is now co-tenancy.)

When I am talking to a legislator, it is in my ability to persuade or evoke a certain action – in poetry the same. Can I persuade a reader to feel, to stay engaged? Can I engage a Delegate or Senator to vote in favor of my client or issue?

In both tongues, poetry & lobbying, I must have integrity in my message. I must be trusted – even if my listeners do not agree with me.

There is no escaping the world of language in lobbying – law is language and language is law. And the law, like poetry is read by only a select few.

I look forward to sharing my insights on the 2018 West Virginia Legislative session and hopefully a little poetry.

~ @cgoodwoman

Feel free to text me anytime, 304.807.1137.  

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