Poetry writers will never object to being published but it’s not our real reason for writing poetry. We write because we have these pictures and lines rolling around in our heads and we are never satisfied until we get it down on paper. You might compare us to alcoholics who are compulsive and addicted. Poetry writers have a compulsion for getting the words on paper before they slip away forever.
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Even though it’s not the main reason we write the hope to be published is always there. Even Emily Dickinson who wrote her poetry in secret seemed to have it in mind. No writer has ever been offended, to my knowledge when his or her writings were in print. And write we do, though it might be of no consequence to anyone else but the writer. Poetry writers have little chance of ever making a name for themselves. Poetry does not sell. The majority of people do not understand it, and have no desire to. Poetry is for the few and far between.
But do we let that stop us? No, we write more prolifically than ever. Look at the magazines and see what they are publishing? Roughly they print 98% non fiction and not quiet a half percent of poetry. So where do we get our poetry published? The literary quarterlies do sometimes publish poetry, mostly without payment but sometimes with an “honorarium,” although there are two excellent poetry tabloids, The American Poetry Review and Poetry Now.
Poetry does get published, though not on the terms poetry writers would like. Poetry writers don’t turn to poetry to get rich. Poetry writers write as alcoholics drink, compulsively, and for it’s own sake. We have things to say that can only be said in poetry. When we get it right our own satisfaction is enough. And sometimes there are bonuses. A few checks here and there shows us our words are appreciated by someone. How can we fail to rejoice in it?
All writing is writing and all of it is part of an exploration. And poetry, just as non fiction, requires collecting material and information. A good poem must have every line, every word, chosen into it. We used to be told we must write poetry with rhyme and meter, but free verse is now in vogue so we are free to do pretty much what we want. The following is a poem in free verse written by Myra Cohn Livingston.
The Sun is Stuck
The sun is stuck
I mean, it won’t move
I mean, it’s hot, man, and we need a red-hot
poker to pry it loose
Give it a good shove and roll it across the sky
And make it go down
So we can be cool,
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