Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Surprising Advantages of Being a Poet

You don’t have to mingle, you’re forgiven for inappropriate comments or seeming non sequiturs, and people aren’t surprised by irresponsible behavior.

When you’re a poet, you can act oddly, but a bigger payoff lies in the opposite dynamic. Since no one expects you to have social skills — if you can actually have a normal conversation — people think you’re terrific.

No matter how you act, few feel threatened by a poet. Even other writers, a group that can jealously compare contracts and royalties, don’t regard you as competition. When an author asked about my book and I explained it was poetry, she patted my arm and said, “Oh, Good for you! Good for you!”

Ironically, even I sometimes have this condescending attitude. Sitting in a Borders with my publisher, I mentioned that the store didn’t have my book. He responded, puzzled, “I just called, and they said it was in stock.” We investigated, and, as I once again scanned the “Local Authors” shelf, I heard him say from another aisle, “Here it is.” I tried to act casual at seeing my name between Millay and Milosz, but I was stunned. I had been checking the equivalent of the “Support Local Bands” bin. It never occurred to me that I would be in “Literature.” The rest of the day I walked around dazed.

The bar can’t get much lower. As a poet, I don’t even have to sell my work to exceed my expectations; just put it on the shelf among impressive company, and I’m happy.

by poet Joe Mills, from Umbrella Spring 2009 [full article]

That's right:
      ... A. Lord Tennyson ... Dylan Thomas ... Philip Thrift ...