“You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you” ~ Carly Simon
after a reading, but most often
it’s a comment appended
to a status update or a reply to a reply
to a reply on an old blog post:
How do you make a living as a poet?
I want to answer with my own question:
Define living? Do you mean
how does poetry keep you
from succumbing to the melancholy
of a mall job or the cramped fluorescent
coma of the nine to five cubicle?
But I know your question is about money.
You think a published book (or five),
a website, a featured reading
out of town must add up to income.
Instead of answering the implied question
I tell them to read; to support the words
that made them first want to write;
to join in the conversations
of rhyme, form, and metaphor.
This is not what they want to hear.
They don’t buy my book
or any books. They fold the poems
they were going to hand me,
wishing for a free critique,
and place them back in their folder.
They always have the nicest folders.
Some will stop following my blog.
Others might post their poetic drafts
on my Facebook feed. Many will
self-publish, ask for blurbs or reviews.
But, sometimes, there’s one
who will tell me what they are reading,
who will ask for new suggestions
of places to go where poets share their work,
who will give me the idea
for a poem, and I will thank them.
Jessie Carty’s writing has appeared in publications such as MARGIE, decomP and Connotation Press. She is the author of six poetry collections which include the chapbook An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2011 Robert Watson Prize. Her newest collection, Morph, was published by Sibling Rivalry Press in the fall of 2013. Jessie is a freelance writer, teacher, and editor. She can be found around the web, especially here.