When is a Poet Not a Poet?

No. It’s not a riddle. I’m not very good at riddles.

I have just been doing a lot of wondering lately on my status as a poet. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like one. Can you keep calling yourself a poet when you have abandoned poetry? I used to write it every day. I feel now as though I have forgotten how to write it. I think the last poem I had published is this one: WHEN VENUS TAKES A RIDE and I wrote it in December, 2009. That’s a long dry spell.

When is a poet knot a poet?

Okay, that’s knot funny.

I’ve been thinking about getting back into the habit of writing a poem every morning before I start prose writing. It really does seem to free something inside the creative mind. I used to write a poem before tackling ANY writing project. I called it WORD CALISTHENICS. It really did loosen the old word muscles too. But I let it slide. It takes 21 days to form a habit…but a lot less to break it.

So, I am publicly setting a challenge for myself. Write one poem every day. I’m not going to hold myself to any length, style, theme, etc. Just one poem a day. That should be easy enough…right?

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a blog post I created over a year ago now to keep track of my published poetry. Now that’s strange…I used to have publications coming out all the time. Not that I submitted everything I wrote. When you write poetry every day, though, the poems tend to pile up. I cannot remember the last time I submitted a poem somewhere. Now that’s sad.


Does a poet ever become Not Poet? Again, not a riddle. I think the answer is no. I think a poet sees the world as a collection of words. Whether or not he/she is writing…I guess that just depends on the way the words fall on any given day. This year has been a year of changes for me. I think my world of words has been in a bit of a windstorm. But I feel the storm is settling. Time to pluck those words from the whirlwind of chaos and start putting them into some sort of semblance of order.

From the website of the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada:

When Venus Takes a Ride
~For the Poet, Venus Thrash, who took a ride~

When the donkeys moan
and screech at night
I think of Venus shining bright,
her smile a child
cast in this strange exotic place.
Her eyes, like her namesake,
glowing in the dark canvas
of a rural midnight sky,
flush with constellations taking flight.

When the brays reach my sleepless sleep,
wake me from my Shangri-La dreams
of Lamu’s narrow streets,
it is Venus that I see,
sitting proud,
riding through the welcome arch,
swaying to the public square
and Lamu Fort.

When Venus takes a ride
we follow,
a parade of weary travelers,
wondering if this poet
is in a way our Mecca bright,
our Venus star in a midday sky.

When delivered to the square,
she dismounts her burdened beast
and mouths her tiny Venus prayers
as sleek and quiet
we slip inside the marketplace
and disappear into magic Lamu night.

Categorized as Kenya, Poetry

By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.


  1. i’ve been writing since i was 10 years old. i started with shorts and poetry. poetry is really what got me fully into writing. i’ve had my spells. i grew tired of it, didn’t think i was good enough, or just didn’t have any ideas. up until last year i hadn’t written a poem in almost eight years. now, i write more poetry than i ever have. sometimes you need the break to recoup…just keep writing and it’ll flow out when it’s ready.

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