poetry has failed to keep me safe in this world

But outside of our echo chamber, this little non-sustainable utopia we’ve worked so hard to build, our work goes unnoticed by those with power in the industry, those with the power to pay us, to elevate us. Or, they steal our ideas, decorate themselves in our culture. Or, they steal members of our community. They give that person money and power, and they become unrelatable to us. I know, it’s a jaded thing to talk about poetry within capitalism. Capitalism makes it difficult to talk about anything with a soul! Poets, we know this.

Sometimes my devotion to poetry has made me feel like I’m plagued by a wound. This love and reverence for the wor(l)d is heavy to hold. Because poetry has failed to keep me safe in this world. Poetry has failed to keep me fed or housed. It has been, for the most part, completely unproductive and unprofitable. It is thankless labour. Being someone devoted to this art constantly makes you feel useless. It’s hard to explain. So, why even bother?

I bother because I feel closer to my soul when I write. And when I read, I feel closer to other people’s souls. And the truth is that Ambient Technology was the straw I used to extract hope from the poison in my life. It’s the medicine I used to heal my broken heart, to teach myself I was capable of loving again. It doesn’t really matter how well it did because, well, it helped me survive.

- Ashley Obscura, from her essay on community on the edges of the literary world, "Extracting Hope from Poison: On Quitting the Writer’s Life," over at the Invisible Press blog. You can read the whole thing here.

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