Dave Hull, Software Developer on Poetry

I was a bit of a late bloomer into the field of software. I was not very into computers or gaming as a kid or young adult. It was the writing and live performing of poetry that led to a career in software. I was living in San Diego when I started attending Drunk Poets Society, a Monday-evening gathering at a local pub where poets and storytellers would come together and read either their own work or the work of famous poets. Drunk Poets Society went on a short hiatus, so a good friend of mine and I started our own open mic night called Soul Session. Soul Session targeted not only spoken word, but also music, comedy, or any other performance art. I hand drew flyers for Soul Session and we passed those out on the street and amongst friends. I also created a MySpace page and marketed Soul Session there. The combination of learning some HTML and CSS snippets, coupled with the desire to learn digital design to create better flyers, led me to take a digital design course, a basic web design course, and a Visual Basic course too. I enjoyed learning about programming and the artistic side of it that web design incorporates. While in school, I got a job writing a blog for a website hosting and development company, which led to development work with the company. The rest is history …

My name is Dave Hull and I am a front-end software developer for a shipping company in the state of Ohio in the United States. I always enjoyed the intersection of math and art that web development provides – there is always something new to learn or an area of the craft that I can improve upon. I saw it as a genuine career path for me from which other interests could spring (digital design, entrepreneurship, non-profit). I now live in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is full of artists, musicians and free thinkers who are passionate about producing a better world for everyone to enjoy.

Regarding my poetry inspirations, I admire all poets who are able to show us an angle of vision we had not noticed before with just a handful of words. Two of those that particularly resonate for me are William Blake and Langston Hughes. Blake has a way of showing us glimpses of the great eternal other (God, Buddha, Allah, Cosmic Consciousness, The Force, The Schwartz … pick your flavour) in four stanzas or less. Hughes was a master of telling the story of African American life in a time of great struggle but also great artistic expression in a way that all people could understand and appreciate, including a white boy reading his work in the 1990s.

When it comes to my own poetry, I have a tendency to write about the internal struggle of the self to “be itself” in a society that preaches “be yourself”, yet seems to expect the contrary. I tend to have a simple phrase pop into my head and then formulate a poem around that. These phrases are already inundated with meaning, so the rest of the writing flows out of that meaning. Writing regularly serves as a good therapeutic tool for emptying the mind of concerns and processing solutions for relief. In the course of doing so, you start to see how many of these cause/effect, that solution/relief paradigms are common to almost everyone. Good stories spring from such a well.

Poetry has definitely been a benefit to my technological careerit fuels my brain with creative problem-solving capabilities. I believe that engaging your artistic side regularly helps you arrive at the complex solutions that get derived when you are writing code. Also, I think it’s wonderful that many technologists have a wide range of interests. I love reading stories about how a big name CEO moonlights as a DJ or a software genius who paints butterflies.

I would say to any aspiring poet to start with a brain dump without worrying about composition, rhyme scheme, or any of that. Do not collapse into a certain style or voice. Also, I would study a wide variety of great poets from across the ages and listen to the modern ones, who mostly make music. Read some of their works aloud and perform them if the work lends itself toward that. This will help you create a “voice”. I also think that poets have a wonderful set of tools now with which to easily and inexpensively produce their work over an expanding range of media. It is becoming easier to publish and proliferate without paper. It is possible to produce a video of a performance and publish that as well without expensive equipment. It really is a wonderful time to be an independent artist.

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