So You Need a Poem …
In the sidebar under “Me & Mine” there’s a link, “Commission a Poem,” which leads to page named “Verse for Hire.” Here’s what that’s about.
I don’t believe (much) in inspiration. It doesn’t seem to me that artists are anything special except insofar as they have done the hard work it takes to be good at making the kinds of things they make. Musicians study musical form and practice for hours every day; painters learn to mix paints, to draw, and to handle brushes, and then they sketch and paint endlessly; writers need to be able to vary their sentences effectively, quickly sketch character, and pace and structure a scene in an interesting story, and they need to sit down, every day, and write. Of course some will be better than others. Maybe they’re smarter or maybe they’re more talented, or maybe luckier — but mostly they just work harder.
All of them, like any craftworker, ought to be able to do their work on commission, in various styles and forms, to a deadline. Poets included.
I know I haven’t (yet) done the work, and at 56 it’s getting kind of late to get down to it, but one of the most valuable things I have done is write poems either directly for other people or at least on themes and in forms suggested by others. I’ve learned to solve problems I might never have otherwise encountered. It’s made me study rhetoric. I’ve learned that I can do things I did not think possible.
And that’s why I’ll write your poem for so little money — basically, $2/line, unless you want something like a terzanelle, and then we may talk about hourly wages — it makes me a better poet.