WILLIAM CLOUD was born in 1997 in San Francisco, CA, the son of Quemadura Cloud and the poet Amina Calil.
My Life in the Tush of Goats
I've been reading and writing poetry more or less since I was an adolescent living a stultifying existence in a small, central California agricultural town. Around the age of seventeen I formulated the ridiculously romantic notion that I would be an "artist" and conduct my outer, material life in a way that would provide me with ample time to devote to following this pursuit. While my peers were attending college, joining the military, or getting married, I decided to take any sort of job offered as long as it would pay for housing, food, and time to devote to writing, reading, and art making. At that time I had very little understanding of how economies work (or, most especially, don’t work), nor did I see that unskilled workers are expendable and most often get stuck with either low-paid employment or no employment at all.
I've worked as a food server in a retirement home, a delivery driver (first flowers, then cookies, and lastly mail), library assistant, used bookseller, temp worker, an EFL teacher overseas (the first time I had health insurance... in a "developing country," no less), researcher/data entry, ghostwriter, and as a clerk for a major grocery chain. While employed for this last company I learned that "the public" often see service employees as dimwitted servants to be mistreated, or worse, heart-and-soul representatives of a company that, among other practices, coerces employees into working harder for less money. I mean, why else would you be bagging groceries and stocking shelves unless you were an idiot? I quickly grew weary of being expected to shake my corporate pasties just because a bag of chips was purchased.
As for poetry and my work-life: calling oneself a "poet” seems somewhat embarrassing in any situation outside a poetry reading, a creative writing program, or in the company of other poets. It isn’t a badge of honor in the “real world.” The only co-worker I ever told I was a poet happened to have been a disciple of a San Francisco poet in the early 1960s. Talk about lucky. I have very successfully compartmentalized my life into "worker" and "artist” and never shall the twain meet. I just couldn't see the point in enthusing about The Countess from Minneapolis to uninterested co-workers while unloading a semi-truck at 4:30 a.m.
At present I've been technically unemployed for over 2 years, but sometimes find work as an "independent contractor." I regularly look for employment and do contract work as it comes available. Recently I've worked as a legal assistant, bookseller, and at an art center for disabled adults. Sometimes I do two jobs a day. I regularly apply for jobs, but I fear my resumés end up in the hands of a shady shopkeeper in Zothique. I hear there is a foot-high pile of them that she sells as recipes for disaster to her fellow Zothiqians.