Friend of mine, younger and talented, is still trying her best to get the work honed so it can be published in high-level rags. Hopes to publish enough to impress a book editor or win a contest, and then secure a job teaching full-time in a university, and thereafter have a nice life. That's what I wanted for myself.
The good side of giving up on this is, I don't sweat anymore about publishing in the right places or even the wrong places. I don't even have to try. It saves a lot of mileage on the poet's ego. It's enough for me to have somebody HEAR my poems, if they won't read them.
And this has led me back to why I wanted to write in the first place: to communicate. To tell the truth as I saw it. To have fun. For art & beauty. To get my ideas aired. To show off my individuality and my passion and my very nice mind. Long leap from those original ideals to applying for a position at Squat University -- a starter university, of course, until I worked my way up to one of the Big Ones.
It strikes me that this -- the academic job -- was the only goal anyone thought was worthwhile, that made a poet successful. Golly, what a wild imagination those people had!