If you can huh, you can hear me
You have to have somebody to write for. You can't just open the window and make love to the world ~Kurt Vonnegut
Yesterday I felt like a real poet. While my son took his afternoon nap, I read through my copy of "Poets & Writers Magazine" with Wole Soyinka on the cover. I never really buy writing magazines (this is strange I know), but I know that if I am to take myself seriously as a writer and get back into the business of writing, I must be up to speed on the goings on in the writing community. So there I was, flipping through the magazine when I ran across an article dealing with the disproportionate ratio of writers to readers.
I am a poet.
Even before I changed my undergraduate major from business to English, with an emphasis in poetry, I knew I was sentencing myself to a life of hustle. Poets don't make money just writing poetry. Unless you are some sort of poetry rock star or the second coming of Walt Whitman, you are going to hold at least 2 other jobs in addition to writing poetry. And even IF you manage to carve out a living writing, you are forced to teach, or freelance, or act or are always on the road trolling open mics and coffeehouses for gigs. That ain't me. Being a poet mommy means that I can't jump up and fly to DC or Atlanta or College Town USA to do a reading for a few bucks. Not without proper planning at least. So, my writing life means that while I am a poet to the core, I also have a day job. But this article made me think. When the planets do align and I release my debut collection will anyone care to read it?
In the piece, "The Law of Diminishing Readership," Joseph Bednarik discusses the troubling decline in the readership of poetry and prose, while MFA programs are blowing up and turning out writers by the pound. As he points out in his article, many people LOVE to write poetry, but don't like reading it. I confess, I'm guilty. When I was sitting in my MFA workshops, I was often asked who my influences were. I would quickly answer James Baldwin, Nas, Mos Def, Richard Wright--notice how they are not poets? But ask me if I want my book read and I will most-certainly say yes.
Reading this article made me rethink my approach. I know that in order to become a better writer, I must read more. Lately I have been enjoying the collections of Saul Williams, Suheir Hammad, and Wanda Coleman. Each of these leaving me inspired and eager to put pen to paper. But the question remains, if no one reads...why continue writing?
This article not only made me more conscious of the poetry market, but of the whole blogging game as well. Just as any other writers, we bloggers get here, craft our entries, and hope someone reads and better yet comments, but do we do the same for others? I have tried to go out and read and respond to as many blogs (that I find funny/interesting) that I can. Many of you have returned the favor (thank you), but there are many still that are silent and lurking. While I am thankful for EVERYONE'S readership, I am vain and in need of a little ego-stroking. I want your comments. Please share and discuss and argue or disagree. Let me know you are out there and have something to say. I promise you, I will do the same.
Related Tags: writing poetry, poetry, poets, writers, MFA, blogging, bloggers, blogs, reading, poets and writers, magazines, writing, mos def, music, hop hop