What Is 'Make a Living'?

"Would you be up for discussing a time you made money from poetry?" Timothy Yu's answer to my question, the first in a series of complicated and generous responses, troubles both terms. How does money figure in an economy where publishing is a break-even venture at best? How does one come to and claim the identity of 'poet'? When there is money for poetry, where does it come from (or not)? And given the interdependence of contemporary literature and higher education, how does poetry's value adhere within the academic labor market? Yu maps these questions and the difficulty of imagining a solution to the dilemma embedded within them, one that will come up again and again this month: the relation of work and writing, of 'making a living.'
Stephanie Young

Read the full essay on the Poetry Foundation website.

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