The poets I know hesitate to call themselves poets. They are waiters or business women or nurses, those labels that give out a steady paycheck. Poets don’t get paychecks, two copies of a journal maybe. I knew when I could call myself a teacher. I celebrated when I finally got board certified as a social worker, but it took years before I called myself “Poet.”
It happened at the publication of my first book. Others referred to me on radio or in print as a poet, but it still seemed a bit arrogant to refer to myself that way. Then I overheard my scientist husband conversing with another of his ilk about his wife, the poet, how for years he had not understood the workings of her irrational mind, been confused by the stream of unconsciousness she substituted for logic, and how he could now finally categorize her, like an illusive jigsaw puzzle piece, put there to tease, and finally when fit into its place, how it illuminates and makes whole the gestalt.
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