The lines/images that trigger my poems rarely stick as the entrance to the final product of my poems. Something that interests me about “Tips for Your Quarter-life Crisis” is that its first line has always been its first line. Well, the first line actually used to be “Don’t feed your kale salad to the wolves,” but when the poem went through a workshop, one of my peers pointed out that the wolves were too menacing for the sentiment of the line. I ultimately agreed with this, so I changed the line to “Don’t feed your kale salad to the wolf puppies.” Wolf puppies are a lot less menacing than wolves, right? I think so.
An image of feeding kale salad to wolf puppies, who probably wouldn’t like the kale salad much, feels right at the beginning of this poem for me. “Tips for Your Quarter-Life Crisis” attempts to present a series of gestures meant to reclaim agency in a situation involving a perceived loss of agency. It’s also a poem about reaching a breaking point and dealing with it in ways that are both absurd and liberating, ostensibly futile and still somehow meaningful on a personal level. I hope the first line conveys this from the start.
My own quarter-life crisis happened during a time when I was working for a content company and ghostwriting an inordinate amount of blog articles for various websites. Many of the articles had titles like “7 Tips for Preparing Your Kindergartner for the First Day of School” and “8 Simple Tips that Could Save Your Marriage.” I was giving a lot of advice and was totally unqualified to be giving most of it. The title of the poem is a nod to that. Without going into particulars about my personal upheaval at twenty-five, I want to note that I did make it through my quarter-life crisis, but I’m no authority on weathering such crises. I hope that’s conveyed in this poem, too. I wouldn’t want anyone to free all the cats at a cat café.