- Write poetry for publication online or in books, or perform poetry live at events
- You'll need excellent creative ability, perseverance, and excellent communication skills
- Poetry is growing in popularity and there are more opportunities in this area thanks to the growth of online performance poetry
Poetry uses language in creative ways to convey a meaning or feeling, and unlike prose (which is how we write day-to-day in sentences and paragraphs), poetry uses rhythm, sound, and breaks in text that do not always follow the normal rules of grammar or spelling. There are some types of poetry that are free from rules and others that follow strict patterns in terms of the number of syllables, lines, or the rhymes used.
- Write and/or perform poetry for publication in books, online, or for performance in public or via recordings.
- Spend part of your time promoting your work, as poets need to be able to reach out to their audiences. You might do this via social media, performing at events, or working with schools and colleges.
- Learn how to use words creatively - much of your time will be spent on writing, editing, and refining your poems.
- Perform your poetry out loud - there has been a significant growth in the number of performance poets in recent years, and an increase in the popularity of poetry more generally.
Your hours may vary, especially if you're a part-time poet on the side of other work. You'll most likely work from home, and if you perform your poetry, travel to different locations.
There are no specialist qualifications required to become a successful poet but you'll need to have excellent writing and communication skills, a strong, innovative imagination, self-discipline, and the ability to promote your work.
Studying English literature at school, college, or university will help you understand how poetry works and some of the technical skills you will need, but this is not always essential and the skills you will need depend on the kind of poet you'd like to be.
Performance poets speak their poetry out loud, sometimes with music, almost like rap (and there is a crossover here with rap so this is also an area to consider). To be a performance poet you'll need to be confident enough to perform your work in front of others and express yourself vocally and physically.
If you want to focus on more traditional poetry you may need to develop more technical skills so that you can write within the strict rules of some poetic forms.
Joining a writing group, attending literary festivals, or performing your work at poetry slams or open mic nights can be an excellent way to get started and to get feedback on your work. Creating your own social media channels for your poetry is an increasingly popular way to get started - you could post your poems to instagram, on a blog, or on a Youtube channel and build an audience that way. You can also submit your poems to open competitions or to publications who print or post poems.
For many poets, poetry is a part-time role or a hobby as it can be difficult to earn enough to make a living. You might also combine being a poet with writing in other forms, teaching, or another career as you build up your audience.