Poetry News

"Cops and poets are intruders into other people's lives": Poems by Cops in New Issue of Rattle

By Harriet Staff

From the Pasadena Star News:

Each of the aspiring firearms instructors had to give a 10- to 15-minute presentation to show his skills in front of a classroom.

The others chose topics you might expect: how to break down an automatic weapon, sniper skills, the best tactical gear.

Jesse Fourmy read poetry.

During that 2005 class, he'd already been a Drug Enforcement Administration agent for nearly a decade. But he also saw himself, as he still does, as "an artist."

The worlds of poetry and law enforcement would seem to share little. But a few poet cops hope to change that perception, one line at a time.

They got some help recently from a Studio City-based poetry journal, Rattle, whose latest issue has 14 poems by police officers and other law enforcement agents, including Fourmy.

A 40-year-old surfer with tattoos and shaggy hair who looks something like Eddie Vedder, Fourmy said he believes everyone can be a poet, including police officers and his colleagues in the DEA's Los Angeles office.

"People have it in them," he said. "I think everybody has it in them."

Other police poets say their two callings have a lot in common. Good officers and good poets both need an eye for detail and perceptiveness about human nature. Writing is an important part of the job for a police officer and especially for a federal agent, who must persuade federal judges to sign search warrants.

Fourmy, who lives in the South Bay, sees his poetry and his day job as different ways of searching for truth. He said he brings the same dedication to writing poetry as he does to sitting on a stakeout for 30 or 40 hours.

"Cops and poets are intruders into other people's lives," former Portland officer James Fleming wrote in an essay in Rattle. "They both probe for character, motive, history. They both want to know what people are up to. A person of interest can end up in a poem or in jail."

Rattle's editor, Tim Green, said the magazine has published previous issues featuring work by lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers and mental health workers. The special sections give insight into the ways what people do for a living shapes who they are.

Full article here.

Originally Published: October 2nd, 2012