Monday, November 12, 2012

When poetry pays the bills... or not

An old question, but still an important one.  In a blog post When Poetry Pays the Bills, poet and editor Mary Biddinger asks
Anyway, dear readers, those who pay the rent with poetry-related activity, or non-poetry-related activity, how do you keep going? What makes you channel energy into writing poems, rather than into vacuuming cat hair off the basement stairs?

So, how do you do it?  What keeps you going?  


Rob said...

I tried to stop writing for a while, but it didn't work out.

laura grace weldon said...

I call it the Poetry Diet.I'd love to pay the bills with poetry. But it's hard enough trying to get by as I do on the Essay Diet, Columnist Diet, and Editor Diet.


Geoffrey A. Landis said...

"I call it the Poetry Diet....

That's a good one!

pottygok said...

In his book As Easy As Lying, H. L. Hix advocates a training regimen for poets. These include "External" training (going outside poetry and bringing external hobbies and readings into poetry), "Verbal" training (expanding one's vocabulary and learning from other languages), "Musical" training, "Traditional" training (understanding the history of poetry and poetic traditions), "Physical" training (awareness of the body), "Chthonic" training (awareness of the bodies and entities around us), "Cultural" training, "Communal" training, and "Conceptual" training. I think following some, if not all, of this regimen helps to infuse one with the energy and inspiration for poetry.

However, regarding the question of Biddinger "What makes you channel energy into writing poems, rather than into vacuuming cat hair off the basement stairs?" I think that pretty much is the thing that makes someone a poet. If you are concerned about the cat hair and not writing the next poem, if you are willing to let chores dictate your life as opposed to the writing of poems, then you may want to reconsider whether or not poetry is your calling. I respect that things like making enough money for food, shelter, clothes, etc. is important, but I don't see that cleaning cat hair will provide that. The daily practice of writing and reading poetry is what makes a poet a poet.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau