I Don’t Consider Myself a Poet

Wow! Busy week equals late-night post. By the way, don’t forget to swing by the Writer’s Digest Shop for all the great 40% off deals between now and Sunday (June 7, 2015). Click to continue.

Here’s this week’s Poet Inbox e-mail:

“I just wanted to personally thank you for hosting the PAD Challenge and enabling this incredible community of writers to share their creations and encouragement. I am truly floored by some of the poems I have seen, and it inspires me to no end, yours included!!

“I don’t even consider myself a poet–just a fledgling writer trying to spit out her first novel (which tends to take a backseat during this challenge). But this group of people participating is just a wonderful bunch, and it is an honor to be a part of it.”


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OK, first off, thank you for all the kind words about the poetry challenge. I never (ever) get tired of hearing how the challenge has helped people on their path to poeming greatness, whether in big or small ways. So again, thank you.

But what inspired this blog post is the first sentence in the second paragraph. I like keeping folks anonymous just in case they’re bashful, but also because I’ve seen this same sentiment from other “non-poets” who happen to write poetry. Here’s the thing:

If you write poetry, you’re a poet!

No exceptions, asterisks, qualifiers, degrees, or et ceteras. Poets poem, and if you poemed, you’re a poet. Simple as that. Period.

But I know how you feel. I used to be the same, used to say the same things. Heck, I still often apologize to non-poets for writing poetry–until I catch myself, because I should be owning that: I write poetry, hear me break lines.

I don’t want to make light of this at all. That is not my intention, because this is serious. I’ve seriously felt this way too, and it’s not right to feel that way–like you’re not a poet, because…


Repeat after me, “I am a poet!”

OK, again: “I am a poet!”

A little louder: “I AM A POET!”

Don’t let anyone–especially people “who know what poetry IS and IS NOT”–tell you any different. OK?

Now, get back to poeming!


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff.

He’s poemed for more than two decades and still feels like he’s only scratched the surface of learning how to be a better poet. That said, he’s been a poet ever since that first poem. He is also the author of Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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13 thoughts on “I Don’t Consider Myself a Poet

  1. Susan Burch

    I have felt this way for a long time…

    a magnet
    with “poet” on it
    stuck to my fridge
    for years
    a little white lie

    (published in Skylark 2:1 Summer 2014)

  2. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    I’m a poet-in-transit, mostly because more often than not, I’m a mess on the stage and my body (which I adore) betrays me at the most inopportune of times.
    But I am still working on my delivery and no matter how many times I suck up there, I’m always putting my name on that open mic list, dreading the moment when my name will be called but loving the fact that I’m sharing my babies, my poems. So a poet-in-transit is what I am, because I’m on my way there, but I haven’t arrived yet. ^^

  3. uvr

    I enjoyed taking part in the PAD challenge. The poems I have read were diverse, amazing and unique. The poets — yes — poets who posted here are supremely talented. I have been inspired and motivated to continue writing by their poems and kind words of encouragement and praise. In wonderful communities such as this one, I have no hesitation in calling myself a poet. In the world outside, it’s a different story, though…

    Thank you everyone, it’s an honour to be among such wonderful people.


  4. SestinaNia

    I think for me there was a big difference between knowing I was a poet and having the rest of the world call me a poet–I knew I wrote poetry, but then, anyone can, so I didn’t feel that I was an accomplished poet. Even after having a few poems accepted for publication, taking poetry classes and developing the craft, I still felt like a hack. It wasn’t until other poets (especially poets that I saw as accomplished/published/valid) validated my work did I feel that I had arrived. I think almost every human capable of writing poetry, just some may never arrive (through lack of desire, effort, or because they won’t let others read their work…). I love PAD because it gives me the chance to reach out and offer that validation to fellow poets 🙂

  5. Sarah Metzler

    Thank you Robert Lee
    Writing a poem a day
    Helped me find haiku

    Since the April PAD, I have read and written over one hundred haiku.

    My head-
    In the sand
    In the clouds
    In my bliss

    _Sarah Metzler

  6. PressOn

    For me, this recalls the issue (in my mind anyway) of what poetry is. I associate it with succinctness, sound, sense, and rhythm, and often find some or all of those elements in works that are not (apparently) poetry, A favorite example is Henry Beston’s The Outermost House, for passages such as this: “Outermost cliff and solitary dune, the plain of ocean and the far, bright rims of the world, meadow land and marsh and ancient moor: this is Eastham; this the outer Cape. Sun and moon rise here from the sea, the arched sky has an ocean vastness, the clouds are now of ocean, now of earth.”

    I like Robert and Walt’s assertion that people who write poems are poets, period, but I don’t consider myself one, or a successful one at least, when I write things that lack those elements I mentioned.

  7. Marie Elena

    When I arrived on this scene in 2009, I was quite certain I was NOT a poet. Along came Walt Wojtanik, who was such an encouragement, and seemingly worked tirelessly to get me to believe I could own it. I was encouraged, but I still did not own it. I can’t tell you when I made that transition, or exactly how, but I can tell you it was very recently that I became comfortable feeling like I really am a poet. Yes, I’m a poet. I’m not nearly as good as I wish to be, nor nearly as bad as I could be. But I’m a poet. And I very much enjoy it. 🙂


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