The Your Voice section of The Poet’s List showcases articles and blog posts written by poets. These pieces may or not be about poetry. Most often, they are on topics with which the poet finds passion. You can find more of these posts, here: Your Voice.
By Sydney Lea
People have often asked me, of course, why I chose poetry as my principal vocation. I like to joke that it’s all about money, women, and fame … which is, of course, just that: a joke. The best-selling poets in America would do well to attract more readers than a last-place major league baseball team might draw in late September of a hopeless season.
So there have to be other motives. I could go on at length about these, but I’ll try to distill my thoughts here.
I came to poetry late, not publishing my first collection until I was 40. Prior to that, I had striven to be a conventional academic, though from the start somehow, the whole effort felt a little misguided. I didn’t know why for some time.
In 1970, I was asked to teach a section of Dartmouth College’s first-ever creative writing course, not because of my credentials — I had none — but because the then chairman of my department, a good guy indeed, imagined the gig would give me time to finish up my PhD dissertation, as I had not yet done. This would not after all be a “real course,” he assured me, demanding neither class preparation nor any scrupulous commentary on the students’ work.