You’re requested to write poems for an organization with a budget and imagination. It’s for an event, for TV, for YouTube, for radio, for a public art piece, for an album, for a book. Welcome to The Commission.
You don’t know what to charge so you take what they offer. Turn it down if it doesn’t feel right. Become known for your work more than taking it. A commission doesn’t dictate what you write. It asks if you are interested. You must ask yourself why would I be interested. And if you can answer that then do it. You can measure the health of a poet by the work they turn down as much as the work they take.
Anyone who commissions a poet deserves respect in my book cause they’ve found the connecting cable to everything. It was hidden beneath the clunky sofa of popular culture – not as clunky as that metaphor though.. Fee for a commissioned poem can range from £10 to £20,000 depending where you and your commissioner are at. It’s like this. When someone lifts your pen from the paper and says, “I’d like to pay you to write about something else ” treat that space between pen and the paper with the respect it deserves. It is a pause between what you are and what you love.