Finding my brand as an old woman—a poem

cartoon of old woman in mock-vintage clothes holding a book of poems and a basket of rosebuds

A dear little old feminist poet who wouldn’t hurt a fly

A kind man offered to develop my brand.
I said, I don’t think you understand
that I am extremely old
and way beyond
the need for a personal brand.
On the other hand…
I once had a public persona
a jester’s role, call it a brand.

In the seventies and eighties
I was a strident feminist
(there was no other sort)
and I shouted loud and proud
and mean and bold
waking up my sisters
with the story of their lives.

In the nineties and the noughties
I had a different brand—
web content pioneer—
and my voice was still excited
but my messages were clear:
they were digital and searchable
and usable and scannable
accessible and clear.

Now once again I know my place.
I’m a little old lady poet
a dear little feminist poet.
(See my bonnet? See my lavender and lace?)
My brand has shifted one more time
from shocking and alarming
to urging and informing
to positively calming.

Now that I’m almost obsolete
I do not terrify
I wouldn’t hurt a fly
(maybe I’ll swallow a fly)
but still I tell the story of your lives
whether you like it or not.
And I hope you do.
I want you to.


Excellent poem and terrible drawing cc by 2.0 Rachel McAlpine

38 thoughts on “Finding my brand as an old woman—a poem

  1. alison41 says:

    Love it! The Re-invention of Rachel . Splendid.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Embracing the (almost) inevitable.

  2. Did you invent the “noughties?” Great word, branded or not.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      No, I’ve heard it now and then. We need that word, don’t we?

  3. JT Twissel says:

    Do all us old lady poets have to swallow flies? ; )

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh no. That’s part of my personal brand. But we all need a bonnet at the very least.

  4. Ha ha! Good poetry indeed! I love your wit – and your ability to carve out an insight in hundreds fewer words than I can ever manage. Still looking for my “brand.”

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh that’s nice thank you. It is a puzzle, isn’t it?

  5. Claudette says:

    Lovely! 🙂

  6. I would love you to tell the stories of our lives! <3 On with i! 🙂

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Aha. Working on it.

  7. rhinophile says:

    All I can say is, you’re a legend, Ms. McAlpine!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Strong words! One day That’s all I will be 🙂

      1. rhinophile says:

        Well you are in my world! 😄

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        I am touched by this. Thank you.

  8. Gallivanta says:

    Interesting how ‘brand’ has, over time, become a positive word. I haven’t quite caught up with its modern usage. For me, brand still conjures up memories of cattle being branded. Something seared into the flesh and unchangeable. I love your poem. I love your style.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That is a big jump of meaning! I’m really pleased you like the poem 🙂

  9. albert says:

    Rather than being obsolete, it sounds like you are progressing –onward and upward, as they say. I am especially interested in the “positively calming” stories. I’ve heard enough rant from both sexes, or should I say “all genders.”

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      It’s all weird and all good.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I dithered between calming and charming…

      1. Since you mentioned . . . Charming pokes at the reader a bit, with its gently ironic tone, as does much of the poem. Also the “r” sound is a perfect fit. I can see why you dithered.

        But calming is the more interesting choice. Its slight off-rhyme perks up the stanza and its ambiguity gives us pause. Is it the speaker who is finally settling down, or is it her intent to create that effect on others who have been, or still are, agitated by personal crises or political and cultural issues.

        So both work. I’m glad you went with calming. (Sorry, didn’t mean to intrude or carry on. A temptation hard to resist.)

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Don’t say sorry, because specific feedback such as yours is rare and I love it. It’s terrific when a reader understands what’s going on behind the curtain of a poem, for starters. You made me think and smile simultaneously.

  10. iidorun says:

    You’ve reached the ultimate level when you are “beyond brand”! This was a great witty write!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh, something more to aspire to!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I see that there is now a category called “influencer.” I am still rather murky about its meaning, but maybe you could be one for the over 70 set?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I don’t think so! They influence people to buy stuff and need millions of followers. Interesting though.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        I was thinking about a new kind of influencer who positively, uncommercially influenced.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You are amazing!! I recently started a blog can you give me writing tips 😍

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Just read lots and write lots and enjoy yourself.

  13. colonialist says:

    I think a good idea
    When eighties one gets near
    Is find new projects to pursue,
    While all the old stuff still to do,
    I used to write and edit books —
    Well, on those things I still have hooks,
    But publish some now, too!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Woo hoo! A sizzling brand that just gets bigger as you grow.

      1. colonialist says:

        Better to burn out in a blaze than to fizzle in a mere spark!

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        It’s a bit late for me to do that.

  14. So glad I stumbled upon this blog. Love the honesty of this poem, and its long-suffering and humorous tone.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comment.

  15. candidkay says:

    Clever! And so tiresome, this personal brand business. Everyone must have a “story” or a “personal brand” now. What happened to unwrapping people like delightful packages?

  16. Delightful poem, and so like my own trajectory, so doubly delighted.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      How fascinating. But if provoked…

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