So, while writing my Poetic Statement, I got to thinking about the differences between being a “poetry writer” and a “poet.” In my mind, there’s a distinction between the two. Being a poetry writer means you can write poetry (and damn well, probably), but you don’t see yourself as mainly a poetry writer. Maybe you also write fiction, or non-fiction. Meanwhile, being a poet carries a certain connotation that poetry is your bread and butter. Being a poet means that’s your “thing.”
I find it interesting there isn’t really an equivalent to being a poet for fiction or non-fiction. I’m pretty sure Rachel Hall (or was it Kristen Gentry??) uses the term “fictioneers,” but judging by the red squiggle-line under it in my word document, that term isn’t widely-accepted. To get specific titles for those, you have to get more specific, like “novelist” or “biographer” and the likes. So, is it a question of genre? Someone who writes fiction would be called a fiction writer, no matter their specific sub-genre, but once you get into that, labels come out of everywhere. Why is “poet” a universal label for poet-writers who feel comfortable enough with the word? There’s tons of different types of poems, so shouldn’t writer labels correspond to that?