The poetry of plumbing supplies


The poet jim bourey reading at the Potsdam Public Library. pc: Kat Dineen, SLC Arts Council.

jim bourey has had all kinds of jobs. he’s a veteran, he’s sold used cars, he’s a former plumbing wholesaler. And all of that has helped his new profession: the poet laureate of Dickinson Center.

A little confession here. I came to appreciate poetry late in life. Or you know, later in life. After my college days anyway. When I was younger, poetry sometimes intimidated me and frustrated me. Why couldn’t these poets just write in complete sentences and without so many metaphors? I got over that, though, and while I’m still not one to write poetry, I do appreciate how we can connect with a good stanza.

jim bourey didn’t wait as long to appreciate poetry, but he did become a published poet much later in life. While he did write while working to pay the bills, he never tried to get published until after he retired at 60. And now he’s cooking with gas, as the kids say, having published several books in the last few years, his poetic eyes trained on his surroundings in the North Country. Of course, “poet laureate of Dickinson Center” is an honorary title, but he is hard at work in the borderlands, helping to make poetry a part of life in places like Malone and Potsdam.

Mitch Teich

If you’re going to meet up with a poet for an interview, it should be at a coffee shop. And so I met jim bourey at a quaint little place in Malone known as “Tim Hortons” to talk with him about the place that poetry holds in his life, his many careers, and the history of the North Country.

bourey has published several chapbooks of poetry, including his most recent, a collaboration with Linda Blaskey called Season of Harvest. jim will be one of several St. Lawrence Area Poets leading an open mic event at the Potsdam Public Library on Sunday afternoon, September 17th. Our conversation was recorded on site at Tim Hortons in Malone, New York.

(Editor’s Note: No Timbits were harmed in the making of this episode. Also: the lowercase lettering on jim’s name is intentional, I swear.)

Thanks for joining us for another episode of North Words. Follow the show so you never miss an episode, and reach out to me at