I once read somewhere that a poet will have diminished success if their full-length collection debuts after they turn thirty-five. I'm thirty-four with a February birthday and hear clocks ticking behind me every few weeks. The illogical voice in my head whispers: What if it's over before it's begun?
I know averages can't predict individual outcomes. Everyone has unique circumstances that defy easy calculation. Is the "disabled poet average" different than the abled one? Is the specific age only important to poets with college degrees?
I might be an outlier but, if the majority of poets fall into a certain section, the odds are I will, too. It's disheartening. Numbers don't care if you're self-taught because no one could help you. Judges don't care if you lost years of creativity to illnesses and brain fog.
In the article I read, no one mentioned just how hard of a hit poets take if they don't squeeze out a book before thirty-five. Is it something that can be offset by another characteristic? Can starting later actually be a boon no one bothers to leverage or consider? Is our society's obsession with youth clouding our perceptions?
As a disabled person, I often feel like I'm arriving late to my own life. There are moments I'll never have that leave an ache inside me. No one receives everything they want in life, but I'd settle for half instead of a fifth. I don't want to contemplate what my late entrance as a poet might mean to my career. Perhaps, it will mean nothing. All I can do is create... and hope.
Do you ever feel like you're moving too slow?