The poet in the free market, liberal democracy


In my late twenties and early thirties, I had a problem with the fact that the talented poet, or the lyricist, or the musician couldn’t pay rent, take care of himself, or afford to get married and start a family if he doesn’t produce work for which people are willing to pay – no matter how brilliant his work is.

The question is, who should pay the poet or lyricist or musician’s rent, take care of him, and enable him to get married and start a family if he can’t do it himself? The government? What will the government demand in return? Will the artist still have creative freedom? Will the poet still be able to criticise the government in his poetry? Will the songwriter still be able to defy the head of state with her lyrics?

I wrote a few poems in my twenties and thirties. I considered it valuable work. I knew it would never make money, but I was hoping it would be read.

So, what did I do as a poet and writer in a free market, liberal democracy? I registered a domain name, developed a website, and published some of my writing on it. Then I formatted my poetry in a Word document, and published it myself in two digital formats, and in so-called print-on-demand format. I also made it available for free on some major websites.

As I expected, I sell few copies, but what would I rather see – a government that forces people to read it?