Why It's Smarter Not to Be a Poet

Being a poet is basically absurd. (I first typed “absurb,” which is probably also true.) People are apparently reading the stuff, good, bad and middling.

But trying to get your book published? A very good poet of my acquaintance shopped his manuscript for 10 years without a bite.

Me, I’ve been really, really fortunate as a poet in many ways, which I gratefully acknowledge. I barely have room to complain. But a book? Not yet. No matter what else you may have done, that’s not easy.

The problem with so many poets is that it’s tougher to raise your voice and get heard–there aren’t more microphones than before, to treat this metaphor as semi-legit. Just more people fighting to get to them and hook up with a stylin’ deejay to scratch a few old-school Yeats recordings while they’re showered with haikus admiring their pectorals and immortalizing their names among the four thousand other winners of obscure “fee-based” contests which are the only way to get your 15 minutes any more.

Perhaps this will gestate and become an actual rant later on when I have more time to type, but for now, I give you part of a recent rejection letter for your amusement:

Dear James,

Our contest is over and [you didn’t win].

[Like, at all.]

Keep trying!


Emphasis mine.

James Heflin

Author: James Heflin

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