1. I would think that shelling out $20 every time I wanted to enter my MS in a contest that, chances are, I wasn’t going to win, was ok.
2. I would think that winners of poetry contests were legitimate and that by winning such a contest my poetry, too, would be legitimized. (Not that the poetry that wins contests is never good. Often it is. But the system is corrupt and tyrannical.)
3. I would spend lots of postage and time “sending poems out” to magazines
4. I would probably have paid tens of thousands of dollars for a worthless degree.
5. The idea of doing anything myself (DIY) would be a radical, foreign concept, and taboo.
It really seems like a raw deal, guys. How expensive and disempowering. I can see some exceptions, where what’s taught in the MFA program isn’t this ridiculous business of politicking one’s poems o’er the globe, or where one receives a degree other than the MFA (an “intellectual degree” like an MA or PhD), or where the degree is funded (Maine, Temple (both of which are MAs)) or where it could actually improve your writing (Brown, SFSU).
It’s not that people who get their MFAs suck. It’s the system that forces you to reinforce it financially and emotionally, to the detriment of your pocketbook and your work, that sucks. The system that makes you think that studying with a Great Poet will make you a Great Poet. The system that says that shopping your poems around to magazines is a worthy occupation of your time. The system that says you “have” to follow any particular path or agenda in order to be a “legitimate” poet.