"Calling oneself a poet is as obnoxious as calling oneself a hacker -- it's a title that must be bestowed externally."

It would be convenient to dismiss this quote from jmc's write-up above as merely a scrap of thoughtlessly mis-used rhetoric--a poor choice of words (and rudely phrased). Unfortunately, there is much in the write-up that I (and others, obviously) find reasonable and well-put--so much so that this casual bit of nonsense is liable to pass without critical attention into the reader's store of unconscious prejudices.

Let me clearly state my bias in regard to the quoted sentence: I am a poet. Poetry is my primary form of artistic expression. All are welcome to disregard what I do as bad poetry, if that is what they think of it, but I insist that it is poetry. If you can think of anything other than "poet" that I may call myself with any self-respect, however humble, then first imagine yourself as a writer of poetry and try it on yourself. There is no other usefully specific word.

"Poet" is not a "title"; there is no one to "bestow" the name on anyone else. "Poet" is a descriptive noun--you can look it up in the dictionary--that does not mean 'one who writes good poetry' (or 'one who practices the art of poetry without a day-job').

The only judgment that is the right of the reader or listener (and the duty of the poet) is the judgment of how well the poet uses the tools peculiar to the composition of poetry; if a person makes a child, however ugly, then it is considered ignorant to wonder if the parent is human.