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Livelihoods of the Poets

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T omas Tranströmer is having a good two weeks: On ­December 10, the 80-year-old Swedish poet was officially given the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature in Oslo, and on December 19, Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a new edition of his verse. To get to this moment, he triumphed o’er what are perhaps the longest economic odds in the arts.

THE WASTELAND
Estimated poetry M.F.A.’s awarded, according to M.F.A.-world blogger Seth Abramson, in …
2001: 700
2006: 1,000
2011: 1,400
Approximate number of jobs available to teach M.F.A. programs: 750




Est. number of poems considered by editors of The Best American Poetry yearly anthology: 20,000
Number selected: 75


The Bling
Representative Paychecks

$460 for a 36-line poem: The New Yorker
$75 a poem: The Paris Review
$25 a page: Plough-shares
$10 a line: Poetry Magazine


THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED DOESN’T PAY FOR GROCERIES
Second job of noted poets.

Will Hubbard
Credentials: Wrote Cursivism, published by Ugly Duckling Presse.
Second Job: Manages the noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells.

Naoko Fujimoto
Credentials: Published in Hotel Amerika, Potomac Review, Passages North, and New Madrid.
Second Job:Purchasing associate at a Japanese tool company.

Tomas Tranströmer
Credentials: Nobel laureate.
Second Job: Psychologist for juvenile delinquents (now retired).

Walt Whitman
Credentials: Wrote one of the best poems in the history of civilization.
Second Job: Government clerk.


WIDELY KNOWN IN NARROW CIRCLES
Best-selling poetry books of 2011

Horoscopes for the Dead / Billy Collins
Copies sold: 18,406
*Author’s est. earnings: $44, 177

Leavings / Wendell Berry
Copies sold: 2, 928
*Author’s est. earnings: $4,377

Come, Thief / Jane Hirshfield
Copies sold: 2,250
*Author’s est. earnings: $5,625

*Assumes a 10 percent royalty rate.

282,000 Copies of Tim Tebow’s autobiography, Through My Eyes, sold since its May release.


WINNING THE NOBEL LOTTERY
Approximate number of books sold by Tranströmer in America in the ten years before he won the Nobel: 12,300.
Number of copies of Tranströmer books that have been scheduled for printing since he won the prize:
at least 50,000.
Monetary reward for winning Nobel Prize:
$1,480,000

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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