What constitutes a successful poet — or rather, a writer, period? I often ponder that question. Unlike sports, music, television and film figures, poets can’t demand a multi-million dollar salary, plop down millions of dollars in down payment (in cash) on a 15,000 square-foot home, or get mobbed by the public and paparazzi alike whenever they make a trip to their local drugstore. So in those aspects, a poet’s success can’t be measured that way.
Robert Lee Brewer, senior content editor of Writer’s Digest Community and author of his debut poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53), answers that question in a blog post. I added that link below:
In the sub-section “Fame,” one indicator Brewer explores of a poet’s success, he writes the following interesting paragraph, which resonated with me because as a tween and teen, I too fell victim to the “free” poetry contests that massage their contestants’ egos through their wallets (and their parents’):
One of my fantastic mistakes as a teenage poet was to submit poems to one of those free poetry contests that offers a monetary prize and publishes all the poems in an anthology. They make a lot of money off poets by charging them to buy the anthology, attend expensive conferences, and even by selling nifty little things like coffee mugs.
Ultimately, a poet’s reason for writing lies within him or herself — even if it’s for one, some or all the reasons Brewer explores in his post (the reasons which are nothing wrong with having, he writes). As for me, I explain my motivations for writing in my April 3, 2013 blog post The ‘why’ of it all in my writing life.