Poet Aaron McCollough gave an interview to The Michigan Daily entitled, “7 things you should know about being a poet.” Deborah Ager then threw out the challenge for other poets to post their own “7 things” lists. Here's my take on things:
1. A poem is not hard to understand. That doesn’t mean a poem can’t or shouldn’t be difficult. If it was easy, then everyone would be reading poetry. And I don’t think that’s what we want—a mediocre, watered-down art form. You have to work through a poem, but the payoff is usually worth it.
2. Poetry is the worst-selling genre of book on the market today, which is unfortunate because poetry is valuable and important to so many people.
3. Despite evidence to the contrary, poetry is thriving. You can see it with all sorts of hybrid MFA programs, self-publishing opportunities, independent publishers, and online communities and zines
4. Poems start long before the words hit the page. You think we’re listing to conversations, but we’re really looking for a stray line or phrase to kick-start our work.
5. After poetry readings, poets appreciate a kind word. I mean, they’re putting themselves out to you for approval, so it’s worth it to walk up after and say, “I really enjoyed your work.”
6. Poets don’t sit around in dark coffee houses in black turtlenecks and berets smoking clove cigarettes snapping their fingers instead of applauding. That’s one myth I would like to break right now.
7. There's no money in poetry. But again, if you work hard, the payoff, which is not always financial, is worth it.