As a former poet (in college), I was happy to see this article in the Wall Street Journal, explaining that some poets have figured out how to make money from their writing:
Some writers now in the poetry business are capitalizing on the demand for custom stanzas. Carolyn Schwartz was working as an organizational psychologist when she began writing poetry for friends and family. In 2006, she decided to try making money from it. She started an online business called Poems by Carolyn which she operates out of her home in Woodbury, Long Island, and today receives eight to 10 orders a month. Most of the requests, she said, come in the form of pleas.
“I’m part-ghostwriter, part-poet, part-therapist,” she said. “People feel a lot of pressure to find the right words, so they’ll write in and say, ‘Please, help me!'”
A standard poem for a candle-lighting ceremony or birthday costs $550, which includes a visit, unlimited changes, a laminated copy of the poem and even speech rehearsals. Clients outside of driving distance are charged $100 less.
Most of the poems are composed for happy occasions but there are some sad stories too:
The custom poets say it’s hard not to befriend clients after sharing poignant moments in the poems they order up. Ms. Alcivar said that in 2010, she was hired to compose poetry for a wedding by friends of the bride. A year later, they called her again, this time to write for a funeral—the former bride had died of pancreatic cancer.”
“These occasions make sense to me because they’re about things people don’t know how to talk about,” she said. “Love and joy, grief and death. When they can’t find the words, poets become that placeholder.”
Ms. Alcivar understands the true nature of poetry.