1) Your joy quotient will increase exponentially. Everyone needs joy and a little crazy, even if they only get it by association. “Poet” might as well be a synonym for “crazy”, in terms of what American society values enough to pay for. We are at the bottom of the food chain, and for the most part don’t care. We are crazy enough to have your back, no matter what. We are crazy enough to make you look sane and desirable by comparison. Because we do our work for the pure joy of it, we are often joyful. Study after study has shown that a person’s joy quotient is affected by the attitudes of the people he or she spends the most time with.
I am working on my first and likely only collection of poems, and this task is 70 percent Dante’s Inferno
and 30 percent satisfaction. But, that 30 percent is so heavenly, it keeps me pretty much happy the rest of the time. I may not get to be rich or famous, but I get to be the most authentic me most of the time. That is a rare privilege.
2) You can take off your armor when with us. You will never have to pretend. Our profession requires us to figuratively strip naked in front of the world on a regular basis. Why pretend after that? Vulnerability is etched on our foreheads.
Conformity and packaging has its place, but isn’t it just a little bit nice to have a friend you don’t have to put your armor on to be with? We can’t produce this art form from lies. It comes from a place so deep, it is beyond them. We tend to be honest in our conversations and relationships, not just our art, because we really don’t know how to be any other way.
3) You will be on the side of the angels and the troublemakers all at once. The seed at the very heart of poetry is rebellion and protest. Without rebellion, poets would not have a lot to say. We typically have something to say that is more than small talk. America was founded by such people, who understood that periodic shake-ups were necessary and desirable. We are willing to do the heavy lifting and think nothing of it. We just might not be able to pay the dinner tab:)
4) We have been to the mountaintop. I can’t speak for others, but every single poem I have written has been in partnership with the Holy Spirit. They come from a place so deep as to be outside my mind and ego. Even poems about non-spiritual things come from a well too deep for me to have dug on my own. It’s like a spiritual seizure. The very exercise of pulling material from this deep well, is as deeply spiritual as one can get, whether or not he or she believes in God, or practices organized religion.
We can transcend the status quo, mundane, technological, and political, and encourage others to believe, if only for a little while, that they can too, by writing a sonnet about corn flakes, or how ugly a crow is, or by burying some biting satire and protest in a catchy, almost harmless rhyme. We can because we have to: we are so often misunderstood. You will get nothing that even looks like judgment from us.
Everyone needs a friend like this, even if only in small doses.
5) The patronage system that kept so many artists afloat is dead, but we need it more than ever in many ways. Art has become homogenized today, and a play- it- safe philosophy prevails.
Those financing artistic projects can dictate what they look like, and a commercial, mainstream look does not put financing money at risk
( theoretically). Friendship is all that’s left, especially for the “ non- commercial” artists, like poets. Support and encouragement are the air we breathe. It gets lonely tilting at windmills, but occasionally we get one! Keep the arts alive. Keep courage in the face of non- conformity alive. Keep a hungry poet alive.Take a poet to lunch today:)
c) L E Kinzie