In my brief and poetically illustrated essay I address my audience directly, assume that “You” live a life similar to mine, that “You” have as negligible a bank balance as I do. You might. You might not.
What do I know? There are poets who make good bread, and more power to them. Ed Hirsch, who in addition to being poet and professor, heads the Guggenheim Foundation—seems like a good job. He deserves all and any monies, if only for How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry. What a rare tribute to poetry and its readers that book is; it assures and creates more readers of poems.
I figure Rita Dove is doing okay, but then she teaches, has racked up some decent prizes and grants, and just edited the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry.
Cornelius Eady travels the world promoting poetry, encouraging poets of color—all colors and shapes and styles—to write. I've seen his and his wife's New York apartment—it's terrific but modest. Still he may have a little up his sleeve financially, being a teacher, and all. But Cornelius is not in the 1 percent, nor is Dove, and probably not even Hirsch.
Which leaves a silent member of the silent minority of 1 percenters to chance upon my work. Are you there, Ma'am or Sir? I'm interested in knowing. Let's meet at a bar, talk. If you like poetry or fiction, I like you. Okay?
***Poets on the Great Recession is a series of essays and poems curated by Eileen R. Tabios.