Monday, 2 October 2017

Can you earn a living as a poet?

In the latest Acumen there's this quote by Hilary Davies which sounds true to me - "it is now possible to make a living of sorts as a poet, as it never was before, but this does entail being willing to engage with the public in ways that were not there, or not required before." It's not an issue that worries me except when I do free workshops - am I undercutting people who are trying to "make a living of sorts"?

I missed the session about money at the Poetry Book Fair in London on Saturday. Fortunately some notes are online. They're worth a read. So is Poetry and Work from HU


  1. I think I may have commented this to you before, but it irritates me that there's an increasing assumption that if you are a "serious" poet, you're also working right within the poetry world - teaching creative writing, facilitating poetry workshops or events, working for a poetry publisher or at least a literary publisher, etc - and that's how you should be making a living. It should be pretty obvious from the history of poetry that great poets have done day jobs that had little or nothing to do with poetry. You can be a poet and work in a bank, in construction, as a secretary, as a scientist, as a CEO. I sometimes think poetry may have suffered from becoming an increasingly insular world where you're semi-expected to be right within it in all or most aspects of your life.

  2. It irritates me too, though I fear that in the future ever fewer great poets will have day jobs that have little or nothing to do with poetry.