The Job of a Poet
So, what is the job of a poet anyway? It feels like you are endlessly running a perpetual startup! Some say it is a fruitless occupation. I’ve had people crack wise, asking me “How much do you make in the poetry biz?”
Oft times my family looks at me askance; like what on earth was I thinking when I decided to become a poet. I mean how do you make a living in this onerous profession? I don’t know many rich poets (sarcasm). I am not saying you cannot make money being a poet, but it is not exactly a very remunerative business or art form to be involved in. Nevertheless, there is more to being a poet than monetary experience.
Is it a calling, a vocation much like a priest or a rabbi? Somewhere in the scheme of things that is what being a poet is all about. We are the ultimate freelancers, flinging our words like yoyos and pogo sticks!
Let’s take a look at this word poet. Poets from time immemorial have been the carrier of news and information, the rolling troubadours of old. The word poet comes from the Greek poiein meaning to make. This is derived from the Sanskrit cinoti meaning to gather. Poem originates also from the Greek – a thing made. Thus, poets are makers of things (poems).
Interestingly, I have always differentiated between writers and poets. Poets make things and writers, write about things. It all seems to align.
Poets are said to have great imaginative capabilities and special sensitivities. They are said to have a gift for language.
William Wordsworth said that poetry is “the spontaneous overflow of feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”
Poets look at the world and write with emotion but by simultaneously withdrawing personal emotion to fully observe events occurring before them.
Can poetry save the world? I would like to think so. It does tend to have a great emotional impact. I do think of poets as being the doctors of the soul. And as the world gets more spiritual, perhaps then the world will listen to its poets. Until then we poetize daily without combusting. For me this is the job of a poet!