Tuesday

Poets, Unsung Heroes of Art


Poets, Unsung Heroes of Art


Who is more neglected as an artist than the poet?

When I graduated from law school my dad asked me why I chose the one profession people hated more than his.  He was a used car dealer. Dad died a few years ago, but I have to wonder what he would say now that I am a poet, a lowly lonely poet, loved by no one.

Singers and songwriters, at least in Austin, can get gigs and put out a tip jar making tax-free real money.  If they can’t get a gig, they can stand on a street corner, at the subway, on the sidewalk and play for tips. On top of that, they have rabid fans who will buy them beers, supply them with perks and tell them they are awesome. Some, like Cowboy Johnson above, get the chance to play Willie Nelson's picnic before thousands of adoring fans.

Authors can get large advances for books not even written. They can even get money to travel the world doing “research” for their books (Eat, Pray, Love).They can go on lucrative book tours and sell books from the back of packed bookstore readings.

Visual artists can sell their works for astronomical sums. They can hang their art in restaurants, have a gallery showing, or at least place their works in galleries for purchase.

The poet, the lowly poet, is not popular at a late night bar pontificating for tips. Restaurants recoil from us. Advances for poetry books are rare and small. I’ve never heard of travel money to research a poetry book. Yes, poets can go on book tours and do readings to mostly groups of 10 and sell a few books.  They are no poetry galleries, or poems hanging from the walls of restaurants. And no matter what a poet does, nobody ever uses the word, “Awesome" or "Encore, Encore!" We are lucky to get twenty people at a reading in the corner of a book store.

I dream of a world where poetry is prized, hung in galleries and available for purchase at astronomical sums. A world where crowds clamor for seats at a reading and slip poets beers or at least Slurpees, and finally people would give us standing ovations and call us, “Awesome!”

But for now, I’ll return to my solitary world, writing without a beer or a Slurpee.

What frustrations do you have with poetry? 
Do you agree that the world doesn't value us as much as it should?
What is your greatest moment as a poet?
I would love to hear what you think below.

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