It’s a lousy job: you obsess and angst over getting the right words into the right rhythmic order, only have the narrowest chances of publication and can expect to earn nothing, having to fit being a Poet around day jobs and family. So why do people want to do it?
In poetry in particular, an ancient or sacred art, the word ‘poet’ still has an aura – that’s why people want it so much.
Increasingly, I meet people who are happy to volunteer the information that they write poetry. They introduce me to friends of their who also write poetry. They don’t seem to read much poetry, apart from their own. They don’t seem to know much about poetry, except their own.
Helena Nelson continues,
There seems to be a kind of confusion between writing poetry and Being a Poet. The laudable attempts to make poetry more popular in sane, poetry-hating classrooms have somehow contributed to the idea that, against all the odds, Being a Poet confers celebrity status.
I’m inclined to agree. There’s a huge difference between writing poetry and Being a Poet. You can spot the Poets a mile off: they’re not writing! What do you think? The real writers of poetry are too busy writing.