The Writing Life: Poet-Preneurs

I learned the world "poet-preneur" at January O'Neil's site Poet Mom today. Here is  an excerpt from her very smart posting.

Why Poets Are Like Entrepreneurs

I have often said that poets and entrepreneurs have a lot in common. We’re self-starters. We often work alone, and work long hours for little or no pay. We’re creative types willing to take risks in our craft and in our development as writers. But we have a vision, so we know how to arrange our lives to follow our passion—writing poetry. Poets, in some respects, share a kinship to social entrepreneurs, because what we do has the ability to bring together a community and to benefit society as a whole.

January's words resonate with me especially now, with The Alchemist's Kitchen newly out in the world. It's a wonderful thing to have a new book in the world -- and it is also a sad thing. Poetry books are quiet, they are passed from reader to reader, there is no Oprah Book Club for poetry, not yet anyway. Sometimes I wonder how anyone finds out about a book of poems other than hearing about it from another poetry reader. And so, because we believe in our books as we believe in our friends or our children, we give readings, interviews, go on blog tours ... we do our part to send our poetry out into the world with a warm send-off. It's the proverbial message in the bottle - hoping that our hard-won words find an empathetic ear. A stranger on a far-off shore that hears the music.


  1. I think message in a bottle is a good way to describe poetry reaching the reader. But I am an optimist. I believe poetry finds readers when they need it the most.

    So we do what we can. We blog. We tweet and post on FB. We do what we can for our books and let them prove themselves in the world. But entrepreneurs don't give up. They face challenges head on and find new ways to get products to market. In the digital age, we have great opportunities to get our bottled messages to our audiences.

    In a country with a population of more than 300 million people, I find it hard to believe we can't find readers for our work. I refuse to believe it.

  2. Thanks, Susan and January. I, too, believe that our work finds its way to the readers who need it most, when they need it most. I love the idea that my book is wending its own mysterious way out in the world, completely out of my conscious control, and am always heartened by responses to my poems that I receive from complete strangers, seemingly out of the blue. Yes, we do what we can to get our work out there... but much of it, I believe, is in the "hands" of unseen forces. There's something deeply appealing about that... Cheers!


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