Before I was an active Poet, I was pretty much a full-time babysitter. I worked my 9-5 all week, took classes in Grad School, and I took care of my baby nephew at least four days a week. I pretty much raised that child for about four years before I started doing ANYTHING for myself. Still, we have to take into account all the places I was going while I wasn’t hanging out-school, bookstores, grocery and drug stores, work, etc…all places where I COULD have met men, but really didn’t, or when I DID, they just didn’t work for me. Plus, I was at the tail end of my first major relationship which lasted nearly ten years and all of my adult life at that point.
ENTER THE POETRY SCENE
I was there for the poetry. Going back to the poetry cafes got my pen moving again, got me back on the mic, brought fun and creativity back into my life after heartbreak had me so cried out that my even my Bic dried up. I had a few crushes or thought a few poets were cute, but nothing serious. I’d actually picked up with an old classmate who couldn’t write a poem if he tried, and was in the throes of a passionate one-sided love affair with HIM when I started hearing the whispers, the blunt tones, the screams, “DON’T DATE A POET!” It always annoyed me when people said that because I am a Poet, and if you’re not supposed to date Poets, then that kills ALL my little action! If you dig deeper, people will tell you that you aren’t supposed to date a MALE Poet because Male Poets are self-absorbed, liars, and manipulators. I take offense to that because a number of my BEST friends are male poets, and they have the same issues and faults as ANY man-except they have a gift for the written and spoken word. It stands to reason for ME that the only woman who can handle a Male Poet is a Female Poet. I live my life in words, so it’s gonna take a little more than a metaphor or two to get me gone.
They tell me there is always drama when two Poets date each other for several reasons:
1.) It’s like dating a co-worker. Like anybody, we spend most of our day at work, and for me, having a 9-5 as well as Poetry being a night job of sorts, I’m at work more than MOST people. It would stand to reason that I would possibly meet a guy at work. All the men at the 9-5 are already married, so a Poet is the greater possibility.
2.) It puts the whole scene in your business. The only way people can get in your business is if you TELL it. Although the majority of my day is spent working in one way or another, there are days when I don’t set FOOT in a poetry venue. If I were dating a Poet-or ANYONE for that matter, all we’d have to do is not update facebook every time we have a meal, have a squabble, or make-out. Besides, some Poets bring their significant others TO poetry, and that makes THEM part of the scene as well. That being the case, the rule should be to keep your dating life separate from your poetry life. However, no matter WHO you date, if you value your privacy, you learn to protect it.
3.) The break-up is public and divides the scene. I don’t think it HAS to. If you’re dating the right PERSON, be they Poet, Painter, or Preacher, you can part ways and handle the situation with maturity. I am the type of person who doesn’t “eat other people’s beef,” nor do I ask them to eat mine. I had a falling out with a good friend who wasn’t a Poet, but she hung out with me at poetry events often. At that time I told people, “we aren’t getting along right now, but she’s still a great person, so please don’t shun her on my account.” Even if I hate somebody’s guts, I have my own career and reputation to protect, and that means more to me than messing up someone’s name. Besides, who says the relationship is going to end in the first place?
4.) You air out your business in the poetry. Yeah, you DO tend to write poems about life, love, and relationships-but you write about other things, too. The key is to have respect for your partner, and no matter what you write, try to only share the work they agree to. Four of my favorite Poets have been husband and wife teams who did poetry together and separately. I think the key to this is sharing the issue with your partner before sharing the poem on the mic. Again, you have to respect your relationship as much as your poetry.
As for me, I have never dated a Poet. I’ve thought a few were cute, had crushes on a few, and was truly interested in a couple. However, given the person I am, I think it would be a good thing for me to date one. First of all, I am a serious Poet. This is not a hobby for me. I intend to be doing this for a long time and on as high a level as I can reach. It’s important for me to have someone who understands the demands and politics of poetry, and to have a love for it as well. Secondly, I’ve come to a point where I speak in metaphors-I’m going to HAVE to either date a Poet or an English Professor just to have someone who even UNDERSTANDS me! Okay, maybe not, but it would help…
What it all boils down to for ME is that you date the person, not the occupation. I HAVE met some arrogant, manipulative, self-centered Male Poets-and I wasn’t the least bit interested in them. I’ve met some arrogant, manipulative, self-centered men who WEREN’T Poets-does that make them any better? What’s important to me, whether a man sings, bags groceries, or spits a poem two spaces down a list from me is that he loves and respects me.