The Starving Poet

Consider if you will, the poet.  A solitary creature, usually found with a cigarette smoldering in an ashtray, a half-filled glass (or bottle) of his preferred poison, staring into his laptop and or scribbling furiously in a notebook.  He doesn’t seem to see the same world we do.  He may look at you, but you will always sense that what you see in the mirror does not reflect the image he views.  The poet almost always lives on humble means.  His clothes are rarely new and fashionable, typically they may have patches or tatters.  No one he knows personally writes poetry, or if they do, it is only done out of desire to emulate.  Why is this?

If poets were comfortable, wealthy folk, they would not be poets.  To go to bed with an empty belly, or a raging mind, these things inspire.  A poet considers which he requires more at present, another notebook or another meal.  Now this may be an overstatement in some degree, but the philosophy is the same.  We write because of what we see, and because we believe that we see what others can not.  As it was spoken to me once ‘the poet swallows dirt to produce gold for others to enjoy’.  This is true.  The poet must suffer, and so even if given the opportunity to live lavishly, he will often choose to maintain a meager lifestyle, one of solitary contemplation.  This too, indicates the mindset of the poet.  Usually, for all of their beautiful words and ideas, they seem to struggle with relationships.  This is because they see themselves as alone in their vision.  It is true, even when knowing a poet well on a personal level, there are always bits that we will not understand fully.

Within a world where one wants for nothing, there is no suffering.  As any prose writer knows, from conflict comes story.  Without conflict, without suffering, we will create conflict, imagined travesty, to inspire the mind.  The poet knows he must suffer for his art.  He will sacrifice everything for that one piece he believes will tear the mask off of the world and force humanity to view themselves as he does.  This is why we respect the poet, even when we do not understand him.  It is a lonely existence, one of suffering and strife, yet from that comes the ability to view the world in ways unlike any other.  He knows he will always be misunderstood, unappreciated, and yet he continues.  The poet writes because it is all he knows to do.  A new piece may begin to form and it will drive him mad until he puts it to paper.

Appreciate the poet, though you may never understand him, and he may never allow you to, you can at least appreciate him for what he is and the sacrifices he chooses to make for his art.  He hungers for things and will never allow himself to have them.  He forces self suffering in order to produce quality.  That is admirable.  So when you see a poet, show some gratitude for his work, he has more conviction than most.


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