I have encountered only a few publications that pay poets for their work. Most recently, I received a $5 check from The Mid-America Poetry Review for a poem that will appear in a forthcoming edition. And I have received payments of $5 to $10 from Byline Magazine in the past. Usually, though, the poet’s payment is one copy of the edition in which the poem appears, two copies if you’re lucky. Some of the higher-quality, nationwide journals offer bigger payments, though.
The Mid-America Poetry Review’s compensation is quite generous, relatively speaking. Along with the payment, I’ll receive two copies of the edition my poem will appear in and a year’s subscription.
All this points back to my interview with South Dakota poet laureate Dave Evans last week, in which he stated quite plainly that you can’t make a living writing poetry.
Of course, I don’t think many poets write for the money. We do it because we love language and the effect it can have on others and ourselves. I’ve tried to quit writing when it has seemed like a waste of time and resources, like a dead end, but I always find myself back tinkering with my old poems or jotting down some line of inspiration that rolls though my brain.
And before you know it, there’s another poem in my notebook that needs to get out into the world, and it’s my responsibility to help it find its way.