How You Can Become a Famous Poet

| 3/11/2010 1:23:24 PM

Tags: Great Writing, poetry, poets, fame, The Awl, Poetry Foundation, Bennett Gordon,

Poet ReadingIf you want to be the most important poet in America, don’t bother writing great poetry. It’s too time consuming. And even if you manage to write a great poem, all your other poetry will look worse in comparison. Instead, Jim Behrle told a crowd at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, poets should devote themselves to relentless, 24/7 careerism. In remarks reprinted on the Poetry Foundation website, Behrle advises: “Your friends are really just contacts, and you have to think of them that way. If dropping their name isn’t worth anything, you may have to ditch them.” Poets should Tweet, Facebook, and ask for fame from friends and anyone who listens. According to Behrle:

How can you become the most important poet in America by tomorrow? It’s not as hard as you think. Poets used to have to pass out poetry-reading flyers by hand, one at a time, or publish poems one at a time in magazines, slowly building a career. But technology has changed all that. Now you can spam every poet in America with every new poem. Start a fan page for yourself and your books on Facebook. Blog about your every thought—they don’t even have to be astute thoughts. Most poets in America have boring office jobs in which they are screwing around on the Internet most of the time. Just mention the names of as many contemporary poets as you can in all your blog posts. You will catch all the self-googlers self-googling. Self-promotion is the only kind of promotion left. Without poetry reviewers to rely on, only you can spread the word about your product. And if you spread it suddenly, relentlessly, brutally, then you’ll have name recognition from here to Hawaii . . . and that’s all you need, because there are two kinds of poets: those you’ve heard of and those you haven’t. Almost all of us fall into the latter category, but not you! If only you take my advice.

(Thanks, The Awl.)

Source: Poetry Foundation 

Image by Nic's events, licensed under Creative Commons.

11/30/2014 8:40:25 PM

okay well im a poet and get told my poetry should go out there, It could be worth something maybe even be a fomous poet someday but I have no clue on what site to go on or anything so im just trying new things tell I get there...

darren rutherford
6/2/2013 11:57:38 PM

Find my Poem on Poet freak and tell me what you think, im 17 Years old, and i just like to motivate and inspire and relate to others in meaningful words. Thanks

3/15/2013 3:54:56 PM

I agree with a majority of everyone's comments. Poetry is what you make it, it defines you. Your originality, perceptions, and personal life lessons. However, money may be nice; but I do it so others may be inspired/think alternatively. With that being said, recognition is always reassuring. Being a poet, often times, gets pretty frustrating when others tend to follow popularity. That is why people yern to be famous, not just the money... -Henringtonj

8/11/2012 9:23:58 PM

You realize he's kidding, right? Much of this is indeed true as far as making a name for oneself in the current market, but he's not recommending you really take this route. I think he's making the same point that many of you have noted here, but you've missed his ... sarcasm, I guess it would be. Or is it irony?

bekki bedow
6/19/2012 2:23:56 AM

If my only goal was to be popular or well-known for my work I still couldn't do this. My poetry is written so that anyone with a heart can understand it. I write because I am a poet it is what I am. Even if nobody ever read a single poem I have written I would have a need to write. It is something that lives inside me. A real poet is not someone who needs to be famous to be a poet, a real poet is simply the person who works very very hard to connect with those who read their poetry, because connection is why we write. Bekki Bedow AKA Nectarfizz

niharika tank
12/25/2011 3:46:59 PM

All rubish and lie. True poetry comes from the heart and beneath the soul. A heartfelt poem that brings with it a sweet melody is the key to great poetry. By proclaiming thy self a true poet without strong poems full of emotions, you have made yourself a scoundrel and cheat. Money is mere paper compared to the poetry of gold.

james westwood
11/11/2010 12:15:21 AM

It's probably best poetry isn't profitable. Poetry comes from a heart that yearns to grow, money would only taint that. To the offices we shall go, To the offices we shall go, Merrily merrily merrily merrily The national deficit we will grow!

james westwood
11/11/2010 12:06:42 AM

If only people were paid to grow and mature. That would be poetry. That's the kind of society I want to live in.

3/15/2010 4:28:15 PM

This kind of careerism in writing is the downfall of all contemporary literature. Yup, I'll go to that extreme and say Berhl and people of his ilk (not a writer among them!) are just plain laughable if they want to call themselves writers. To the people who are still out there writing--thank you! To egotist, self absorbed people like Berhl: does the name Bernie Madoff mean anything to you? You're doing to writing what Madoff did to Wall Street, to our economy as a whole. Your greed, self entitlement, self aggrandizement is nothing less than pitiful.

3/15/2010 11:20:25 AM

O.k. let's get rolling

3/15/2010 9:41:11 AM

There's an aspect to poetry that is being overlooked in your commentary. Poetry is more about the Self expressing itself than about the product. The reader creates their own story. Berhl was proposing an ego centered, success oriented doesn't write poetry for those reasons...though it is nice when it happens.

3/15/2010 9:31:16 AM

Behrl is all about the product, what about the process? Isn't poetry about the process?