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“Manufacturing” by Alan R. Shapiro


Over the years, there have been increased scholarly debates regarding poetry’s role in one’s professional ambitions (Humphrey, p. 740). Despite the complexities between these two seemingly different worlds, most of these debates critically show a great correlation between poetry and a person’s ambitions in any professional field or academic major. For instance, in Alan R. Shapiro’s poem “Manufacturing,” the poet critically includes several elements applicable in my professional field, majoring in mechanical engineering. Through proper inclusion and incorporation of poetic elements such as metaphors, symbolism, and figurative language, Shapiro brings about the main theme of professionalism built up by the manufacturing element, which is crucial in my professional ambitions. It is thus evident that poetry critically plays a bigger role in people’s professional lives, and the role played is very significant. This is attributed to the fact that poetry can aid people in exercising their professional capacity and learning other hidden elements in art that play a huge role in professionalism. Therefore, this essay provides an exclusive and detailed analysis of the connection between poetry and one’s professional ambitions with a critical focus on Shapiro’s poem, “Manufacturing.”


Shapiro’s “Manufacturing” critically incorporates different literary elements in the poem that builds upon the concept of professionalism. In turn, these help me improve my professional ambitions in mechanical engineering and understand how poetry relates to one’s zones of professional interests. For instance, Shapiro incorporates the first-person point of view to bring about the main element of manufacturing, which is my main area of interest. Through this, the narrator mentions machines and pressers, among others which critically give the reader a working environment, presumably a manufacturing environment. The narrator says, “their voices raised a little above the soft/erratic humming of the big machines, /the riveters and pressers, warming, rousing” (Shapiro, 16-18). When it came to his writing, Shapiro’s professional ambition was a continual source of enthusiasm. While the poet’s view of himself as marvelously selected manifests itself in many ways, Shapiro’s ability to portray, analyze, and enhance his creative aspiration in such exquisite detail in his poem is unparalleled in the history of English literature. As a result, the poem critically enlightens on how one can expand their professional ambitions, which can be entirely achieved through persistence and commitment, which are the only avenues attributed with professional success.

Shapiro’s ambitions were nuanced by another factor: the main character’s prior professional experience in politics and manufacturing. If a typical poetry’s subject is professionalism, profound devotion, or yearning, Shapiro’s technique to the poem “Manufacturing” bucked convention emphatically. A closer examination of the poem reveals that while literary and professional accomplishments may be perfect for other writers, they make logical sense for Shapiro only when combined with a prosperous professional career and sufficient professional objectives. The poem’s narrator utilizes a simile to emphasize the manufacturing component of professionalism, stating that it was “unstoppable as money/and moving in a limited supply/it seemed to follow where the money went” (Shapiro, 40-42). An unmasked poet pleading for civic patronage and professional enthusiasm is at the heart of the text’s action. Shapiro makes a strong case in the verse that the central narrator pays attention to the manufacturer’s divine talent and provides him with an official title and a new role. This is demonstrated when the narrator states, “But I was thirteen at the time, and for the first/time old enough to have my father say/these things in front of me, which must have meant/I was a man now as well” (Shapiro, 30-33). The reader can deduce from the preceding remark that an individual can advance to new responsibilities in their professional settings by consistency and ambition, which ultimately increases their ambitions. Thus, Shapiro’s poetry “Manufacturing” is extremely important for developing one’s professional talents and objectives, much as the poem’s narrator learns that he may be trusted with some adult-only dialogues.

Shapiro’s poem “Manufacturing” also presents the reader with proper organization and allocation of duties as a critical aspect of professionalism which is the poem’s main theme. From the onset of the poem, the reader is informed that everybody was channeled “to warehouse, factory, department store and office” (Shapiro, line 11). According to recent studies, division of labor and allocation of duties to workers in different sectors in a workplace is among the key mechanisms that promote professionalism (Humphrey, p. 741). The workers in the manufacturing store, according to the narrator, are supervised by a highly respected Captain even by the narrator’s father and uncle, who only conversed “above the soft erratic humming of the big machines” (Shapiro, line 17). The above illustration critically enlightens the readers and me on the need to respect the chain of command for production to be optimal in any organization. This example is very significant, particularly in my professional field, since it involves different stakeholders and sectors that are highly equipped with a diverse workforce, each specifying on a particular task. The above critically helps improve the organization’s profitability since there is respect and sufficient productivity since each party focuses on what they can deliver the best. Therefore, Shapiro’s “Manufacturing” teaches the importance of respecting the chain of command and diversifying the workforce, which will result in the optimal result and thus help individuals in their professional ambitions and aspirations.

The poem also teaches the importance of responsibility in the workplace. When individuals are responsible, their contributions to an organization are positive, which builds up their professional ambitions. However, when someone is irresponsible in their assigned duties, they are punished using strict measures such as being fired. For instance, in Shapiro’s poem, the narrator mentions another character, Tony, who sleeps in the factory store supervised by the narrator’s uncle. From the poem, it is evident that Tony had been reluctant of late, always sleeping at the place of work. Professionally, it is wrong, and it was an act that was punishable by being fired. As a result, Tony is chased out of the factory store since he is no longer productive for the organization. The narrator says, “get him the fuck out of here for good, will ya” (Shapiro, line 47). This critically shows that a person’s actions determine their professional position in any organization. These actions might hinder or expand their professional ambitions depending on how they portray themselves.


From the above discussion and analysis of Shapiro’s poem, “Manufacturing,” it is evident that poetry and professionalism go hand in hand. Shapiro’s verse critically interlinks an organization’s professional ambitions and productivity with manufacturing as the primary element. Therefore, the poem and research findings have shaped me a lot to be better in my professional life and ambitions. One of the main lessons is the importance of diversity in the workplace which contributes highly to the overall productivity of any organization. Lastly, the poem taught me the importance of respecting the chain of command and following professional ethics; otherwise, my ambitions and aspirations will be doomed to fail.

Works Cited

Humphrey, Holly J. “Poetry and Professionalism.” Academic Psychiatry 38.6 (2014): 740-740.

Shapiro, Allan R. “Manufacturing By Alan R. Shapiro | Poetry Foundation.” Poetry Foundation,,


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