professional – and other – skills

I have a profile on the LinkedIn system and regularly receive updates on what changes have been made on the profiles of people within my network. This morning I found this in my inbox (the two lines refer to the same person):

skills & experience

What I want to know is, did he go on a course (updated education) and learn to be a poet (additional skill). Or was it something that happened (updated experience) that brought out the poet in him?

I’m not meaning to be snide about it. After all, my own contact with the guy in question is through the world of poetry, and I don’t doubt it’s a valid point to include on his profile.

What I’m really questioning is why it took me so many years before I felt I could call myself a writer. And why it still sticks in my craw to say I’m a poet.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

6 thoughts on “professional – and other – skills”

  1. Wouldn’t the skill be “poetry”?

    “Poet” would surely be a profession, or at least a vocation.

    Perhaps it needs a scale of rising degrees, like Skill (Poet – Limericks (Talented) Haikus (Poor) Rhyming Couplets (Appreciated) )

    And that’s before you discuss whether “poet” is a skill, talent or knowledge. Can you be taught to be a poet?


    1. I agree that ‘poet’ sits awkwardly as a ‘skill’, but so does ‘poetry’.
      I think ‘poetry’ is something you make, not something you do, perhaps.
      Hmm. Maybe not…

      Trying again:
      ‘Poetry’ is more like a product, not a process. So listing it as a skill is like listing “meals, clean floors and pressed shirts” rather than cooking, cleaning and ironing.

      Mostly, ‘poet’ is unlikely to be a profession. Certainly not one that you can hope to earn much of a living from. And what sort of objective scale could there be? A Cambridge Certificate? I still feel that the whole MFA in Creative Writing is ‘dangerous’ ground, although, to quote the ex-laureate “If imagination cannot be taught, the craft of writing can.” And I guess he would include poetry in ‘writing’.

      Note that people don’t seem to label themselves as ‘novelist’, ‘columnist’, ‘essayist’ etc. quite so readily as they choose to say ‘poet’. Why is ‘writer’ an acceptable generic term for writers of all forms of prose and yet not for writers of poetry?


      1. Writer often implies “published”. Poet often implies “wrote something my mum quite liked”.

        And there’s still a lot of people out there who regard the word “poetry” with soppy drivel about valentines. In the same way that cartoons are just for kids – until they see Maus.


  2. Poets are often modest, while poetasters from Thomas Shadwell to ****** ****** are almost always self-admiring.

    Unlike Shadwell and his descendants (whole tribes of whom infest the Internet), your writings are considered to be poetry by all intelligent readers, so you’re a poet whether the word “sticks in your craw” (cliché alert!) or not.


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