Friday, July 22, 2016

Baby, Remember My Name

© by Gerald So | | 4:00 A.M.

This week's panel question at 7 Criminal Minds is, "Which would you choose, fame or fortune?"

It's got me thinking. While I'd love to make enough money to support myself and my extended family, I didn't pursue writing, particularly poetry, to make a fortune. I know many writers who began in poetry but largely gave it up when their work in other genres took off. Discovering my talent at 13, I began in fiction because it seemed safer footing than poetry.

In 2001, teaching at Hofstra University, I befriended poet Robert Plath. He wanted to create a faculty poetry website but didn't know how to code HTML. In helping Rob with the code, I read the submitted poetry with an editor's eye and got into writing some myself. My first print acceptance was not a story but the poem "Night School", originally in the Spring 2003 issue of Long Island Quarterly, reprinted on the Web in Red Fez.

Remembering that, I've consciously chosen to keep writing poetry along with whatever else I can. Every kind of writing feeds its own kind of creativity. Poetry, moreso than prose, approaches subjects from surprising, instantly personal angles, letting the poet's voice through unfiltered by narrative expectations.

Fame or fortune? I choose fame in the sense that I'd like to be known for my work. If I make a fortune in writing or elsewhere, I'll keep writing.

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