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How To Get Lucky (Professionally) MAG
A year ago at summer camp,
I asked a professional writer how I could grow up to become
a professional poet.
This incident took place during a lecture, so
there wasn't really anywhere to hide when the room
This professional writer looked at me,
a stupid 17-year-old with ink on my arms and
shaking fingers, and told me
that nobody really cares that much about poetry anymore,
and to make a living off of it,
I should get lucky.
Is that it?
I've been “getting lucky” ever since the
I opened up my lungs and invited the world inside, and when
my chest fell, I exhaled poetry. Living off of it
is easier than you might think, because
I've had days
where I could barely muster up the energy
to take in air, but
the fire in my ribcage needed oxygen to
I've been lucky ever since my words
a grown man cry; I don't have to lay a
finger on anyone
to touch them. I can use the power of
to bring audiences to their knees, but
we raise each other up.
That professional writer probably saw me, a stupid
17-year-old with ink on my arms and
and laughed because in me,
he saw something childish,
something naive and silly:
he saw a dreamer, and didn't realize that
that's something that I had to fight for.
My fingers were trembling because
until that question left my mouth, I was safe from judgment, from skepticism,
I was closed off;
But I took a risk and opened myself
to a lecture hall,
exposing my dreams for everyone to see
I had so much faith in everyone's faith in me
that I laid myself bare, and
everyone laughed. And it happens.
It's okay. It is.
The reason why I write my poetry on
my skin is because
it's already a part of me;
I already know the words, and I'm not
for myself. I want everyone to know
that people do care, that there are people who will listen,
that my passion is not worthless,
my voice is not worthless.
That being said,
I know that I've never been good at making myself heard –
especially around my peers.
I asked four or five questions in my math class last year,
and most of them started with the word “sorry.”
But that's why poetry is so important to me;
it gives me a reason
to get on stage, in front of a microphone
and let everyone know
that I'm here. I don't want to be ashamed
for taking up space.
And sure, I know that maybe being a
“professional poet” isn't the most
financially stable career out there,
but isn't the purpose of the adult working world to give something back?
To provide a service?
Poetry is all that I have to give.
So, you think I should get lucky, huh?
Let me share a professional's secret
Poetry isn't really about luck.
It never was.
It's about opening your lungs and inviting the world
into your every breath, because
you have to be vulnerable first
before you can fully appreciate everything
that the world has to offer you.
It's about breaking down your walls
in front of a crowd full of strangers,
and giving them the rubble and the dust that's left
and challenging them
to make something new.
And sure –
maybe that professional writer is a
and a little wiser than me.
But if some kid, say, aged seventeen years old, bearing the scars
of their craft on their skin,
came up to me and asked me for the secret
to being a successful artist of any kind,
I'd just tell them to open their eyes.
If you can see yourself, 30 years from now,
doing anything else,
go into a different field.
But if your feet exist for dancing,
if your fingers were made only to hold
if you write, see and breathe in poetry,
you're lucky enough by my standards,
you'll be fine.
You'll be fine.