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Counting Poets

Updated on May 23, 2012

Rapidly aging set-up, how many
To screw in a light bulb, this or that
Blondes, lawyers, Jewish mothers
Architects, whatever, yet
If one talks about poets
(They and them or you and I)
It becomes harder to quantify

In the beginning there were
The darkness and the light
By each other defined
Instantly forming a vortex
(Reminiscent of sex)
Imitated universally
By relationships in, um, “reality”

Everything by its opposite
Put into perspective
From a given angle
(Yours, mine, theirs, his, hers)
Each in the other entangled
Like a paragraph with blank verse
Be either of them smooth or mangled

But in addition to black and white
Created incidentally or intentionally
By separation of darkness from light
Colors in an infinite array
(Including infinite shades of gray)
And who decides between
What is azure and what’s aquamarine?

Therefore in determining
How many poets may exist
With our very reality we are toying
Where differences perceptual
Contextual and conceptual
By juxtaposition with each other persist
(Sorry if I am losing you here)

The Devil is in the definition
(In the hearer’s ear or reader’s eye)
Where one perceives a poetic rendition
Another apprehends language plain as pie
Where one enjoys the fragrance of masterpiece
Another catches a whiff of doggerel unworthy
To carry the hallowed name of Poetry

Not so simple this matter of deciding
To whom goes the honored title of poet
To which goes the reviled moniker of hack
To whom goes the coveted laureate
And whose submissions always bounce back
The criteria are largely subjective
(Who gets praise and who invective)

Not to hone too sharp a point
(Don’t want to poke anyone per se)
But if deciding who’s a poet and who ain’t
Is up to whomever you’ve asked to say
To count the poets there is just no way
Unless just to hazard a random guess
Or simply ask and count those who say, “Yes.”


This Hub was written in reply to the question by fellow Hubber, Astra Nomik: “How many poets are there on HubPages?” Well, there are tens of thousands of members on HP, several thousand of whom are writers and of these writers, many, many of them at least dabble in poetry. Does that make them poets? I think so. Others may differ with my opinion, however.

Poets and Writers magazine does not let one register to be in their database of poets unless the person has had poems published in publications by recognized publishers. Since I am ineligible for this honor, does this mean I am not a poet? Does it mean that Poets and Writers magazine does not think I am a poet?

I think I am a poet and HubPages agrees with me, apparently, since they awarded me Grand Prize for Poetry recently in the “HubPatron of the Arts” creative writing contest. But that does not mean that you have to think I am a poet. You can think I am a mauve elephant in a spandex leotard if you want, but that will probably not make me one. Neither will thinking I am a poet make me one.

But I think I am a poet because:

  • I regularly write poetry
  • Some people besides me call me a poet


Do you think you are a poet?

See results


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    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      6 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Brenda! I am grateful to visit beautiful places.

    • Brenda L Scully profile image

      Brenda Lorraine Scully 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Thankfully you did not lose me along the way. I love your photography.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      Labels and pigeon holes indeed. Thank you, Christopher!

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 

      7 years ago from Vermont, USA

      Shakespeare wrote: "Nothing there is 'tis good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

      Pigeon holes and labels are convenient but often arbitrary.

      I tend to agree with Popeye's declaration: "I am what I yam".

      I just published a hub that touches on this subject too..."I Came Upon A Poem". And it is what it is.


    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thank you. Sweetly said.

    • Dyhannah profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      I enjoyed your poem. You are indeed a poet.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      Ah, these questions, Jhamann, these questions... :)

      Thank you.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      7 years ago from Reno NV

      Well written reply to a question that has been haunting me after I read it. Jamie

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Rahul. One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, calls herself a reporter. I like that idea, too. Thanks again.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      7 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I agree with Vincent all along!

      There are poets and then there are messengers... Then there are sharers... you can count them one.. or you can differentiate...

      You though are definitely a poet... with a knack to scribe beautifully

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      I think all teachers are secretly or overtly poets, Tylergee. :)

      Ruby, I love to be sent off to the dictionary by what I read. Thank you!

      Vincent you are a complete poet. Just admit it :)

      Thank you, Voronwe. You sum up the issue very nicely!

    • Voronwe profile image


      7 years ago

      A great poem! Very Humorous and covering all the considerations that make up this ongoing case. As you say, it’s up to the readers – the reception alone defines a great deal – though not to all poets. The last line sums up really well and offers a great solution; and yeah, not all who write poetry will say yes and many will just say “I’m really not sure!”

      This is the second hub on this topic I’ve come across today. The first one was called “We are not Poets!” by empire mike which was very interesting.

      "What's a poem?" Indeed, sir! :-)

    • profile image

      Vincent Moore 

      7 years ago

      "Counting Poets" a very thought provoking scribe my Poetic friend. How then is one is to define a poet, I would have to certainly bestow the title of poet upon you.

      I simply am a conveyor belt of mixed words that come from within while my Muse whispers to me from the shadows from time to time. I look at life as Poetry and all of it's experiences one can draw from it and lay down their own personal feelings by rhyming or through prose.

      I admire anyone who can lay aside their fears and let loose their hearts and souls before them in ink. Peace and blessings to you sir. Keep gifting us with your work, I am truly honored to be a reader of your great work.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I think you are a poet. Your vocabulary sends me to the dictionary at times. Hee..I think if a person thinks he/she is a poet, then a poet they are. I know when I attempt to write poetry, I write from my heart, so whose to judge? not I.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a great thought-provoking hub. I've never really considered who is a poet and what makes them one. In my opinion, everyone can be and has the potential, and primary school rhyming sets us up for this (even though that's only one for of poetry). Personally, I think I am a poet, even though I write one every few weeks, maybe even months. I need great inspiration to write, but when I do, peoples feedback is positive, sometimes even taken aback that I don't write more. Being a poet is a personal preference or view.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      One thing about being a poet, it is almost impossible to make a living at it. I mean, a truck driver is a truck driver. She's got a pay stub to prove it. A poet, well, all they've got is their poems. Then of course we are stuck with, "What's a poem?" :) Thank you Randy, Beata, Xstatic and Cleaner3 for reading and commenting. You made me think and laugh.

    • cleaner3 profile image


      7 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      very good food for thought.

      is it what it is, or is it what they say you are ? well i have been called many things from a true poet to some stuff that i would not put on here.

      So to put it mildly,

      You are what you want to be, if thats what you think you are, so if you really want to be one,then you are.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      7 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Beautiful Hub with much laughter in it as well, and an excellent definition of what some of think we are (is). This is great stuff and I want to read more so you have gained a follower as well. Up all the way across and shared. I would hate for any of our "poets" to miss this defining moment.( My wife thinks so too and she does not claim to be a poet, but is a writer (whatever that is).

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      7 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you, my fellow hubber 'poet or no poet':) to this interesting input, I agree with you, poetry is such a subjective matter, watching recently a great documentary about the POETS of Great Britain, I have noticed as a strange reoccurence, many of them have not been considered poets in their lifetime and some not even long time after their death until someone somewhere dig their work out and labelled it great and 'poet was suddenly born long after her or his death'.

      Dear 'Randy Behaviour', just write, do not care about labelling your work poetry, I call my rambling 'scattered images in my mind', some people call it narrative poetry some not, but for me is just the way I write, call it what you want, it doesn't matter in the end:)

    • Randy Behavior profile image

      Randy Behavior 

      7 years ago from Near the Ocean

      I think the readers decide. Not one reader mind you but in mass. I was a girl who wrote some poems until I was told by enough (including you) that I was a poetess. And then I suppose I was.


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