We’ve all heard of the proverbial starving artist dilemma. Perhaps poets fit the same description, at least a good portion of the time. So many now-famous poets were undiscovered in their own lifetimes.
Robert Graves (1895-1985) was a British Classicist, poet, literary critic, and novelist. His best known published works included Claudius the God, I, Claudius, King Jesus, Lawrence and the Arabs, and The White Goddess.
Graves said this about the profitability of poetry.
“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.”
Father of eight children, Graves might have understood this idea better than most, except that his novels apparently did quite well.
Plenty of poets pursue other careers (both writing-related and in other fields), while practicing their wordsmithing craft on the side. Some of us are admen, columnists, news reporters, promotional professionals, or technical writers. Others work in factories, office, or stores. Poetry becomes our art, our avocation, our hobby, and our outlet.
Maybe that’s what Graves meant, when he said:
“To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.”
Yep. We get it, chapter and verse.
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