'What is your ideal dream blog job?' asked Lorelle VanFossen recently on Blog Herald. She was talking to freelance writers and she meant paid jobs. But what popped straight into my head was, 'To be free to write lots of poetry and have it read by people all over the world.' Well guess what – that's exactly what I've got!
No, it doesn't pay me, and I do have to eat and pay rent like everyone else, so it's fortunate that I have other sources of income. It's also a blessing that those sources of income don't take up so much time and energy as to crowd out the poetry.
Not everyone sees it my way. There are those who think I am irresponsible and even crazy for wasting time on poetry that could be spent pursuing more money. And it's not as if I have huge numbers of readers nor any great fame, so really, what's the point? What's the good of all this poetry?
Actually, the question's academic.
First of all, poets don't get very famous anyway, so that's beside the point. Nikki Moustaki, in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Poetry (a very good book, by the way) says: 'To begin with, the phrase "famous poet" is an oxymoron. There ain't no such animal. You and your friends might discuss poets X, Y, and Z, but that's because you love poetry, I hope. Poets simply do not get recognized at the post office, nor do their publishers take them out for lavish dinners. Most poets, in fact, write poetry between teaching, watching their kids, and picking up after their dogs.'
Secondly, writing poetry is something I can't not do. On the rare occasions in the past when I could not do it, I experienced that as a condition of sustained misery. No writer likes writer's block! So I'm not likely to stop. But does my writing have any value beyond self-indulgence?
This morning our friend Amanda came to breakfast. She's one of a number of people in my Yahoo! group of Rosemary's Readers, who like to receive my new poems by email. I started mentioning something about the latest, then asked her, 'Oh, have you seen it yet?'
'Yes,' she said. 'I loved it.' Then she told me how it lifted her spirits to receive my poems that way. 'It's lovely,' she said, 'When you've got a whole lot of work emails, to see a poem amongst them, and to be able to read something beautiful.'
I was reminded of a reading that my friend Raeline Brady did for me with her Spiritual Voyager cards when she was here in January. One of the messages that came through was, 'Poetry gets to the core, the heart. That is the pertinence of poetry now. It is essential for people to have access to poetry as a means for heart activation.'