The Real Profit in Poetry

Common wisdom holds that there's no money in writing. And let's be honest, what little there might be for most of usassuming we're not Stephen King or the celebrity of the dayrarely if ever finds its way into the hands of poets.

Consider the image of the starving poet, huddled in his lonely garret, warming his fingers over a stubby candle so he can scratch out a few more inspired lines by that same meager light. With each word, he leaves another bit of his soul on the page.

Romantic, isn’t it?

Only if you’re inspired by your own suffering. I prefer to take my cues from outside influences.

The natural world is rich in inspiring imagery, from the humble resting place of a slowly melting snowflake to the panoramic reach of the Rocky Mountains. No detail is too small to warrant your attention. And nothing is too large to be captured with a few carefully chosen words.

Strangers are another fine source of ideas. The less you know about them the better. Simply graft your imagination onto their physical attributes, and you’re well on your way to creating something unique.

With its brevity of form, poetry excels at capturing a moment in exquisite detail. And somehow, magically, poetry sees past even the ugliest fa├žade to the beauty within.

While poetry probably won’t pay the bills, it will most certainly enrich your life.

Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.


Donna McDine said...

The single sentence wrap up is profound on right on the mark. Happy writing!

Heidiwriter said...

This is great, Betty. I'm not really a poet, but at times in my life I have been inspired by nature or innermost feelings to express myself in this genre and it really IS fulfilling!

Magdalena Ball said...

You're right Betty - poetry may not pay the bills, but does have a priceless value. Don't forget either the more concrete value in terms of honing skills (learning to write so precisely and powerfully - focusing attention on every word is great training, even for other kinds of writing - I've always found that poets make the best fiction writers), promotion, and connecting.

Margaret Fieland said...

Betty, I totally agree. Poetry may be a bad way to pay the bills, at least for most of us, but it is, for me anyway, very addictive. It's given me a sensitivity to proper word choice and speech cadence, among other things, that would have been difficult to learn any other way.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

The value of poetry is incalculable--solace, inspirational strength, and, as Maggie says, the power behind all great prose. Lovely article, Betty.

Unknown said...

A nice overview Betty. To me, poetry is always dancing around in my head, through images and destination. And I feel compelled to share what I see inside myself. Through my continuing recovery from a stroke twelve years ago, writing poetry sustains me. My poetry mentor Raymond Souster passed away recently at the age of 92, and though he published 50 poetry books, he never made much money, other than winning the Governor General's Award in 1965, the first time we met and became friends. I was humbled to know he had my latest batch of poems read to him by his Care Giver who wrote and told me Ray liked them. Now I would love to have a full book of poetry published. Keep writing, you present and future Bards; it's fun! ...Richard L. Provencher Website:

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