Gina Tron’s ‘Employment’ turns the 9-5 grind into poetry

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Gina Tron has held plenty of jobs. She has worked at a Walmart, a PetSmart, and a small-town newspaper. She has been a waitress; she has worked at a CBS affiliate, Lifetime, and a media job at a TV station that was owned by the Catholic Church. These days, she writes, primarily about murder, for Oxygen. 

So it’s entirely fitting that her most recent book — her sixth — is a collection of poems called “Employment.” “Nobody wants to grind for the man, but most of us have to,” read the press materials. “Gina Tron has clocked into a lot of nonsense which has luckily led to undeniably relatable poems recalling the details of making other people money in order to survive.” 

The poems touch on the dark side of many of the jobs she has held; of sexism and corruption, sexual harassment, boredom, and plain old poor management. (The book’s dedication page calls out all the “sh–ty a– bosses I had” while also thanking the ones who were cool and supportive.) 

“I also make reference to the arrest of my boss for child pornography while working at the Diocese of Brooklyn television station, which occurred when I was there and the hypocritical reactions to that,” she says. (“Emergency meeting is called/and the big, big-big He/who owns us/yet is still part of the flock, above most/He is being arrested on child porn distribution charges /after those Thai trips.”) 

For someone who has done a lot of longform reporting, poetry is a refreshing change in format. 

“Poetry really lets you address stuff that is less complicated than journalism or memoir. It’s more abstract and you don’t worry as much about consequences,” she says. “With this, I can go wild.” 

Of her job at a CBS affiliate: “He uses a clipboard as a paddle/upon my rear end/I say to myself, it didn’t end in the fifties/this is real and now/I didn’t think/I guess I do now/fine I get it/this isn’t a show/He says, don’t worry I didn’t enjoy it/when I order Him to stop” 

And murder reporting? 

“I love it,” she says. “It’s not for everyone, but I’ve been fascinated with true crime. I try my best to make it a bit more victim focused, and not as much about the killers.”

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