Poetry Makes No One Poor
Poets are not necessarily poor, and when poets are poor that’s not because writing poetry has made them poor.
At least in the U.S., most poets are like most people in that they are likely to remain in the social and financial class to which they were born.
In fact, one of the not-so-secret secrets of poetry is that quite a few poets are well off. Many of them come from well off backgrounds in which they had a range of opportunity available to them, including studying poetry and becoming poets.
Some poets who are born poor actually use their poetry and their interest in poetry to find opportunity and to rise in social class.
Of course, like people generally, poets are likely to have more opportunity the better off they are when they’re born and less likely to have opportunity the poorer they are.
It’s true that some poets stay poor or become poor, but that’s not because of poetry or even their poetry. It’s because they don’t find a job (of any kind) that allows them to be less poor, something that can happen for many reasons.
Poets, like most people, have to have jobs, unless they have enough money that they don’t need jobs. Writing poetry is not itself a job (though it’s certainly work).
Where does the idea that poetry makes people poor come from? Partly, it comes from a romantic mythology that poets themselves have often believed in. Even more commonly, it comes from relatively well off people who want their children to pursue work more clearly associated with money than poetry is. “Don’t be a poet, you’ll be poor,” is something said not by someone who knows poetry but by someone who cares more about money than poetry whatever social class they might be from.
In my experience, becoming involved with poetry has a huge range of benefits for people both in terms of their friendships, their quality of life experiences, and in some cases their financial opportunities.
Whatever risks there are in poetry, being a poet does not make somebody poor.