The Six Kinds of Poet

Whilst poetry has many forms, poets themselves can be divided into six distinct categories.

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A poet is a writer, but to say that a poet only writes is a misunderstanding of what a professional poet can be. Poets write, perform, teach and do a dozen other things.

Most professional poets could be placed into a category, or possibly straddle two as their primary focuses, but they will often take projects outside their category. A poet who performs may also teach workshops, a poet who writes for publication may also lead a community engagement project. In fact, most professional poets are a combination of everything.

1. Page Poet

The page poet is a writer. They are concerned with the art of writing poetry and publishing. These poets craft their poems primarily for the page; for magazine or book publications.

The page poet may take part in readings but they tend to be exclusive affairs with them as a billed talent, often as a method of raising their profile and selling their work.

A page poet might enter writing contests and compete for prize money.

2. Performance Poet

Performance poets write for the stage. They are dynamic performers who use sound as their canvas, focusing on flow and rhythm to draw audiences in. They may get paid for feature or headline sets, as part of a larger event, or they may take part in slams and compete with other performers for prize money. Some develop their own shows which they tour, just like a theatre company.

Some performance poets record themselves, often becoming rappers. Sometimes their musical career takes on its own life and they find themselves working almost exclusively as a musician.

3. Producer Poet

A Producer poet puts together events and gets paid for it. They use connections and their knowledge of trends to put on the best shows.

Their shows could be as simple as a poetry reading or slam or they could be complex events taking course over several days, pushing the form and expectations of the audience to deliver excitement.

4. Educator Poet

The educator poet uses poetry as a canvas to teach. They can teach poets how to write poetry or they could use the medium of poetry to create fun content on any subject.

Many educator poets use poetry to develop literacy skills, but their work can also cover socio-political issues, like those referenced in the more political, contemporary poet’s work.

5. Outreach Poet

An outreach poet looks for ways to engage with people. They use poetry as a medium to take part in social reform, whether by helping people express themselves through writing or by providing the opportunity to perform as a way to keep at-risk kids from getting into trouble.

The outreach poet is a lot like the Educator poet but less academically focused. Outreach poets aim to bring poetry to new audiences, often through new platforms and technologies. Some are focused on building communities or developing new poets through workshops.

6. Marketing Poet

A marketing poet uses poetry as a way of pushing brands or agendas. They may receive commissions from political groups or social organisations to commemorate events such as building openings or important historical dates. They may be involved in political campaigns or they may write and perform content to make you want to buy a product.


So, which kind of poet do you want to be?

Connor Sansby is a Margate-based writer, editor, poet and publisher through his super-indie Whisky & Beards publishing label.

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