Monday, 13 July 2015

Writer and poet

When I first joined Twitter at the beginning of this year, I was immediately struck by the way people try to describe themselves in a few words. One term that crops up on a regular basis is "writer and poet". Well, I'm sorry, but this just sounds wrong! A poet is a writer. The latter is the generic term in which we'd include the former. Of course, I'm being slightly pedantic: I know full well that users mean they write prose as well as poetry, but my question is why they phrase their description in such a way.

One possibility is that I'm over-interpreting things, and the explanation is simply that Twitter lends itself to abbreviation. On the other hand, I do have the feeling that people sometimes view verse as a separate entity to be kept apart from all other writing. As Twitter shows, even poets themselves can end up falling into this trap.


  1. One suggestion I might make as to why this happens is that many people perceive "poet" as a different sort of identity from "writer" - an identity which may not even have all that much to do with writing.

    I could be wrong, but this is an impression I have. I'm not sure it's a good thing, either. Personally, I sometimes describe myself as a writer (I do other types of writing, too) and sometimes as a poet, but I doubt I'd bother to describe myself as both at the same time. It's one or the other depending how I am categorising things.

    1. Hi Clarissa,

      Yes, I know what you mean.

      I still feel very self-conscious and awkward when mentioning I'm a "poet". It can be a perfect conversation killer!

  2. Dear Matthew

    I describe myself as 'a poet and aphorist' because I'm hopeless at prose. The last time I had to write any serious prose was at university almost forty years ago.

    Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish