I am writing 10,000 poems before my Parkinson’s Disease nullifies me – my hope is that over that time it takes to complete this project the process will delay my cognitive declines related to PD.
But recently I was asked by someone: ‘How can you put all that effort into writing without any financial reward? I don’t get it..’ Poetry is the poorest of returns of any writing. However, I do charge for my other time – as a designer of live experiences and events – but that time is not art – not when a committee dictates the perspective. It does not satisfy me because it is the wrong kind of work. It is ‘just’ my financially-necessary vocation. So the simple, possibly glib, response to the original query was that writing is good for me on an emotional level.
But she was still perplexed – by the effort, the time that is taken by my going to open mic sessions, poetry festivals and other such activities – which may be construed as selfish indulgences.
So I thought more about what the real benefits are in such a (possibly) fatuous commitment and came up with…
- Expression of emotions and unloading
- Contacting new people through live events
- Engagement with new topics which I may leave to one side
- Interest in abstract subjects and making sense of them
- Taxing my cognition to reduce decline (some thoughts here from the USA)
- A record of my existence
That final one may be the most ridiculous – my headstone of online words! – I (honestly) do not think about that aspect of it all – my poetry may not be good enough to survive my death – it may just fade and no longer echo on the overcrowded internet – it may be a curiosity in an accidental find.
My poetry only has to matter to me to be uploaded – but it has to engage with people to exist. Poetry is a unique art form – the size of it – the impact of it in such brief engagements – means it won’t ever be a cash cow – poetry and poets survive through love.
So, when I reach poem #10,000 do I stop? By that time what physical and mental state will I be in? Should I put all my energy into making money and not making poetry?
So, the answer, now, to her question: I know now that I cannot afford to not write poetry in this painful place I find myself.