Friday, January 04, 2008

The “7 Things” List

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.


BB said...

But I love my black turtlenecks ;)

Congratulations on the Literary Mama honour, January!

Ananda said...

i am like bb. i do love my eileen fisher and gap black turtleneck sweaters. they keep me warm. i loved the list. the kind word of appreciation is a nice reminder to let my fellow poets know how great they are. tyou for always sharing great poetry insights and information.

January said...

I love my black turtlenecks, too. But the 60s Beat poet image of the black turtleneck went away with the Beats!


PnmiK said...

Could it be that maybe people don't come up after a poetry reading to say "I really liked that" is because nobody really liked it?

January said...

No. If people don't come up after readings it's usually because they're scared to draw attention to themselves.

PnmiK said...

As a sometime public participant in our church services I have also experienced the letdown of nobody coming up to me after a speaking or singing stint.

Having been around for twice as many years as you, January, I see this retiscence(sp?) as more of a cultural phenomenon instead of drawing attention to themselves.

People are just so self-absorbed with personal electronic gadgetry that promotes this behavior (cell phones, iPods, MP3s, Blackberries... and too many other stuff I'm unaware of) that they have simply forgotten how to approach and talk to peole in person.

Re the setting in my 1st paragraph, do you think this may be why preachers position themselves at the door to greet departing worshippers?

Perhaps this response can be grist for one of your poems?

I wish you well, January.

laundrygirl said...

C'mon now - you know I am sitting right next to you in my beret and black turtleneck holding a paint palette and making art on an easel!


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