I am a poet. I claim the title, even though it isn’t the way I make a living or something for which I have academic credentials. (Realistically, very few poets make a living at poetry.)
I read an essay a couple of years ago by a young, credentialed poet, who was published and had been an editor, but who still felt he shouldn’t be called a poet because he wasn’t suffering for his art in a garret somewhere.
I, however, don’t make it that complicated for myself.
I considered myself a poet before I was even published because it was what I felt I am, in the same way that I am a daughter, a spouse, a mother, a woman, a musician.
It’s what I am, not what I do.
Maybe it is easier for me because I don’t do paid work, so I don’t have a ready-made answer when someone asks what I do, by which they nearly always mean “what is your job?”
I can claim to be a poet, because it is a mode of expression that is important to me and that I have been working on developing.
I am also a late-developing poet, given that I have only started writing seriously in my fifties. In the last two years, I have been working on improving my poems through participating with the Binghamton Poetry Project (a community workshop run by grad students at Binghamton University), a group of local poets who meet regularly to critique each other’s work, and a new women’s group called Sappho’s Circle.
So, I think this weekend I am going to register.
It’s one of those things that we poets do.
Because of who we are.
This post of part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. The prompt this week is “four-letter word.” Join us! Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/08/28/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-2915/