I’ve been watching an argument (debate does not cover it) in a writing facebook group I’m a member of about why poets call themselves writers. At first, I found this really insulting. While I don’t think the original poster meant to insult any poets in the group, he didn’t do himself any favours by digging himself further into the hole with not one but two further points trying to explain what he meant. Maybe he genuinely thinks poets shouldn’t call themselves writers, maybe he just isn’t interested in poetry and would rather have novelist friends, maybe a lot of people overreacted (like me).
But the more I thought about the more I realised he was wrong for a different reason.
Poets Can Be Writers.
Simply put, yes, poetry is a form of writing and therefore as a poet, I am a poet and a writer, just that simple act of putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, words to form. This doesn’t make me a novelist, or a blogger, or short story writer or journalist or even a technical writer. Writing a poem doesn’t translate into those genres of writing. I am a blogger of course, and a short story writer too and a hopeful novelist (one-day folks).
It does make me a writer. Whatever I write, whatever the genre, the form, the topic, I am writing, therefore, I am a writer. This could be said for a lot of people in a lot of ways, but there is something about identifying as a writer, something about taking that ability and passion into your heart and your life completely. It’s not just knocking out a few fanfictions and an angsty poem when you’re seventeen (things I have done) but developing your craft and feeling it inside and out.
To me, that is a writer. Regardless of what you write and whether you get paid.
But A Writer Can’t Be A Poet?
This isn’t true. Not because of the argument that poets can be writers, but because novelists, bloggers, biographers, short story writers are all poets too in a way.
I actually think Wikipedia puts it best.
The work of a poet is essentially one of communication, either expressing ideas in a literal sense, such as writing about a specific event or place, or metaphorically.
That doesn’t just apply to poets, writers of all kinds of communication via the written word and some of it is bad (like poetry), and some of it very, very good (like poetry). We are all just communication thoughts and ideas in one genre or another, one form or another. From sonnets to star reporting, it’s an exchange, a sharing of events and emotions.
Then there is just the beauty of prose. have you ever had a novel make you cry, or an article makes you appreciate your life just a little bit more? A book that made your heart sing and a blog post that made the world around you a little clearer? That is not just the province of poets, but the province of prose, of all writers and words.
Put sentences together without thought or passion and your simply listing events in an almanack. But give those words feeling serious meaning, give those stories something of yourself and you have the written word as it has been for thousands and thousands of years.
The written word is more beautiful than anything else because it offers everything the world has to offer and more.
And that, that makes a poet a writer and a writer a poet.
(N.B – I dreamt up a great deal of this post, but stand by it wholeheartedly).