A look at modern day poetry.
Poetry has never been a very lucrative business. In centuries past, poets were supported by the nobility or royalty of a time. They made money by writing positive things about the aristocratic life or by commissioning out their work and writing a poem for a specific person. For example, W.B. Yeats was supported by Lady Gregory in order to continue his work. However, poetry and the making of it has changed a lot in recent years.
With social media continuing to develop into marketing platforms, sites such as Tumblr have become outlets where people can freely post poetry. This site has opened the doors for people like Leigh Stein to showcase their work and even become a poet laureate after she wrote a poem based on “The Bachelor.” However, these sites offer no direct income. Without the wealthy and influential people supporting the poets, the challenge to support oneself with poetry alone is difficult.
Even with the unsteadiness of a career in poetry, this modern era of spoken word and rap has created different outlets for people who may not have been associated with poetry in the past. Now, people like Minneapolis’ own Guante are able to have their work put on display in more public settings, such as school assemblies or large corporate events. They are not confined to simply written word. Even then, though, many artists need a supplementary income. Guante teaches on the side, and although his teaching is related to spoken word and compliments his work as an artist, it is still necessary in order for him to be successful on a financial level.
It is difficult to predict the course that modern day poetry will take. Hopefully, through the new mediums of spoken word and rap, this generation can continue to produce meaningful work regardless of whether that work is in the form of popular rap, or simply a teenager posting their poetry to Tumblr.