Aaron McCollough, a University English lecturer who has published three books of poetry, discusses a career path that all parents hope their child won’t pursue

Angela Cesere

– As told to Lisa Haidostian

1 – There’s generally no such thing as royalties in poetry. You don’t get a dime from the books you publish, even if someone actually buys a copy. If your heart is set on being a professional poet, either score a lecturing job or get used to Ramen.

2 – The most common way for new poets to get their work published is by entering in poetry contests. They cost money and are usually only won by people already established in the poetry community. Good luck.

3 – If no one will publish your poetry, self-publishing websites like Lulu.com exist to guide you through every step of the way. Of course, that doesn’t mean anyone will read it.

4 – If you want to be a poet, skip out on the creative writing major and instead hit the library and submerge yourself in your favorite kind of poetry. If you don’t read a lot of other people’s poetry, you won’t write good stuff of your own.

5 – Facebook.com, Myspace, blogs and various websites all contribute to a burgeoning sense of camaraderie within the poetry community. Sometimes poets message each other on Facebook in search of a free couch to crash on when they travel.

6 – Poetry isn’t important in today’s culture, but the fact that it’s useless and people still continue to write it makes it important, in that weird paradoxical, poetic sort of way.

7 – Almost all poets are self-involved and narcissistic. If you’re not, you might want to work on that.

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