Legislative Poetry

We have been repeatedly told that this experience interning at the Texas Capitol will be fast paced, to say the least. We will be stressed out and overworked in ways that few people can understand. We have made individual self-care plans to help us get through this internship as whole as possible, though one month in, it still feels as though these are plans for the distant future.

I wanted to participate in this internship to grow as both a professional and an individual. I have for much of my life hoped that growth would just happen as I aged, as I finished school, as I started working. Intellectually, this may be enough, but I have come to learn that real growth, the kind that shapes the direction of your life and makes you you, requires work. It requires processing events, reflecting on your actions, and remembering what kind of person you are and want to be.

I have found that creative outlets can simultaneously work as tools for self-care and growth. Poetry, especially forms with clear guidelines such as the haiku and the limerick, can help us process our feelings and memories without the sometimes intimidating openness of prose or free verse. Like we have seen over the last several years, accepting flexible guidelines that anchor us in a shared reality can be comforting and is arguably necessary for a functioning society.

Here are a few memories and thoughts about my first month as a legislative intern that I wanted to make tangible, accessible to my future self (the competent, confident person I am becoming every day). Please enjoy.

Session Begins
Waiting in the air
Spring today, winter again
One month in, what’s next?

Speaker Phelan
The role of House Speaker is clear
To manage his members, so dear
When they won’t stop babbling
Then he gets to gaveling
And pleads, “Have some decorum here!”

Amendment No. 14
The rules of the House being writ,
An amendment proposed went like this:
“No member shall dress
In jeans, please vote yes,”
Unsuccessful, the stylish Rep spli

In Texas, things move
Often in the wrong way, so
Always work to do

I complete this post on the day of the long-awaited announcement of House committee assignments, signaling the start of the real work in the Texas Legislature and the LSG (sure, Zoom meetings count as work, if you call introducing yourself to strangers online several times a day “work” – and I certainly do). I feel a muted sense of anticipation and excitement, muted because I am unsure of what is to come – what committees I will cover, which members I will learn to recognize and worry over, what obscure policy details will dominate my every waking thought for the next few months and likely beyond. Things are about to change in a big way, and when they do, my combination self-care/personal growth/poetry journal is sure to hear about it in poetic verse.

by Hannah Hall, intern in the Texas Legislative Study Group

Originally posted from University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work’s Austin Legislative Internship Program. The College selects graduate MSW students to intern at the Texas Legislature during its legislative session every two years. This post was syndicated with permission from its authors.

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