Literary Greed

The poet Diane Wakoski writing on literary greed.

There can be no greater joy than making a poem or story or a picture that tells about you, your thoughts, your life, your feelings. In this case, I think Emerson was right. If there is any virtue in being an artist, that virtue is its own reward. Why then, expect the world to applaud you, to honor you, to pay for your pleasure, your indulgence? But that is the greed of all us, the poets, who want our play considered work; want to be respected and paid for saying what we think and feel. Such luxury.

Her poems Red Bandanna and Hitchhikers.


One response to “Literary Greed

  1. Interesting entry.

    On the one hand, I understand what Ms. Wakoski is getting at. Writing just to be famous, or expecting fame–especially quick fame–for your work is a fruitless quest. It’s like deliberately chasing the person of your dreams: if you don’t get fame, you become embittered; and if you do get fame, it probably won’t be on your terms.

    Yet it does sound slightly smug for a famous author like Wakoski to tell newbies that fame doesn’t mean anything. It’s no different than those conventionally beautiful women on TV saying that looks don’t matter. Fame, for better or worse, does matter. It sells books, and for writers who find the MFA teaching route repungnant, selling books is what gets the food on the table.

    That’s my take.


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