Jill Magi
Pre-cursors to LABOR: Collections 1–3

Collection #1:

Freda Casso, facts: slipper worker, blacklisted, treated like a non-person, handwriting, struggle and deep friendship, sister, like I never existed, August 18, 2009.

Fact: I believe this is the second time I am to indulge in a personal note to you. I don’t like writing much because like most women I can’t put thoughts into few words.

Fact: I am really writing this because I am disturbed far beyond the ordinary dose of aggravations that have been part of my diet for more years than I care to admit.

Fact: I do hope that you’ll take this frank if not too clear man to man talk and have the most of it.

Reader’s Card: Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, No. 004403. Name: Jill Magi.

Facts: the decay of linear feet, an always-becoming utopia, see below.


Collection #2:

gymnastics teacher
principle’s office worker
strawberry picker
business office worker
college bookstore window dresser
public relations office worker
English as a Second Language teacher
college intramural sports office worker
flower shop worker
daycare center secretary
emergency room registrar
continuing education office worker
survey research phone bank worker
fine crafts store salesperson
tutor for the department of sociology
clothing store salesperson
fur coat showroom receptionist
bookstore salesperson
refugee assistance program job developer
daycare careers training program coordinator
adult literacy teacher**
novelist* **
community arts program administrator**
dance company manager**
assistant to a musician/composer**
college writing tutor**
union job re-training teacher**
college English composition teacher**
union childcare fund organizer**
academic advisor**
poet* **
college poetry teacher**
college literature electives teacher**
small press editor* **
visual artist* **
financial documents proofreader**
academic degree program coordinator**

*no profit made; no workplace affiliation or office space; in tax terminology, “operating at a loss”
**a job overlapped with other jobs; continuous employment as other jobs are added; or, part-time jobs pieced together; or, full-time job while working a second job


Collection #3:

Wheat pennies, Madame Alexander dolls and their boxes, silver dollars, purses to match shoes, a collection of shells, another collection of shells labeled in drawers, hers are catalogued and cross-referenced, nearly everything is doubled when there are two girls. A display of blue ribbons, red, honorable mentions, a stack of International Gymnast, a set of Little House on the Prairie books, Eric Heiden on the cover of Time.

Imagined: a flat file of used dress patterns, one frayed quilt, earthenware pots, drawers with small metal pulls, aged newsprint, needles picked out of the troughs between floorboards, guidebooks to countries never visited, well-placed stones. The sadness of the space between vessels.

We are caught—comrade—in a trough of salty air.

The weather momentarily clears between fingers of clouds refueling over the ocean. Between, I intend to capture blue, to learn, to pick a new city in which to pay my bills. The decision to leave is slow to come. August 15, 2010. I collect some rest between each lower-level disturbance. The gentleness of not knowing the names for clouds against the anxiety of wanting you to succeed.

Jill Magi works in text, image, and textile and is the author of LABOR (forthcoming from Nightboat), SLOT (Ugly Duckling Presse), Cadastral Map (Shearsman), Torchwood (Shearsman), Threads (Futurepoem), and numerous chapbooks and handmade books. Recent work has appeared in Opon, Rattapallax, The Columbia Poetry Review, Drunken Boat, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and Common-place: Journal of the American Antiquarian Society. Her visual works have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Arts Council Gallery, apexart, AC Institute, and Pace University. She has been a resident artist at the Brooklyn Textile Arts Center, a writer-in-residence with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and an arts grant recipient from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. She has taught at The New School, Goddard College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 2012–13, she was the Columbia College Chicago MFA Poetry visiting writer.