EING A POET HAS NEVER BEEN MORE POPULAR than it is right now. Whether you’re looking for financial success, social popularity, romantic involvement, or just a rewarding part-time hobby, poetry offers not only handsome cash prizes, in the form of hefty advances, publisher’s perks, and royalties, but also unprecedented prestige in the community.
You’ll get streets named after you; scholarly movements will be devoted to the study and analysis of your work.
You’ll be quoted in the papers, and you’ll be taken seriously at the neighborhood bar.
So why not start now?
Here are a few things to remember which will make it easier to enter the exciting world of poetry:
1) Something to Write On.
A notebook, your birth certificate, any old piece of paper lying around will do for early drafts. As you gain experience, you’ll need computers and copying machines, but start slow.
No poet is without a good assortment of pens.
Or, if you already shave, stop. If you don’t have a beard, look around a little. Everybody has something they could shave. You’ll need to shock your system and simultanesouly serve notice on friends that you’ve changed. Don’t tell anyone why at first. Wait until you hit it big to spill the beans; while everyone loves a successful poet, nobody can tolerate struggling beginners.
4) Quit Your Job.
You won’t have time for it anyway, and you’ll soon be making so much money you’ll scoff at the nine-to-five rat race.
5) Give your money to the poor.
As soon as you do this, you’ll be poor, so the cycle starts over again. Poets need to understand process.
6) Stop eating.
After all, you won’t have any money. You’ll enjoy greater range of imagination once you get away from the daily rigamarole of going to work, making dinner, etc. Anything you can do to interrupt your comfortable schedule is going to help.
7) Change lovers.
This one gets complicated. If you don’t have a lover, you’ll need one, because you’re going to want to write elegies, paeans, and the like. If you do have a lover, you’ll at least have to break up with them, because right now you need to give and receive pain. While single, (also if married or committed to someone) you’ll want to develop unhealthy infatuations with impossible objects of desire, as this will sharpen your angst and sense of overall despair. Futility is your friend. If you’re straight, you might think about “going the other way.” If you’re anything but straight, you are at a competitive advantage. This is especially true for lesbians, as they are known to be “bookish” and “expressive” and both these qualities are in demand among poets. Remember, it’s not as important to be edgy and well-read as it is to appear that way.
by James Carney