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Bell Curve


Poet, But You Don't Know It. Salary: $0 

You're one of those poetic souls who's always quoting some obscure verse and wearing a scarf even when it's eighty degrees out. Everyone buys you poetry collections for your birthday—sorry, "the anniversary of your body's entrance into this state of being." Even your own mother thinks you should stop reading and watch TV a little more.


Decent Rhymer. Salary: $15,000 

You took your degree in business and you make a decent living. It's enough to front your own publishing fees for your book, which actually gets a surprisingly large following in the Pacific Northwest. You even took fourth place in a poetry contest. Maybe your guidance counselor shouldn't have pushed you away from becoming a poet so quickly.


Seasoned Wordsmith. Salary: $30,000 

You've seen your work in a number of highly respected literary magazines, and you've even received a fair amount of praise for the two books you put out. It's great, but you still long for the day when you'll be able to quit your management job and devote each waking hour to the powerful, earth-shaking verse you know you're capable of delivering.


The Poetry Professor. Salary: $60,000 

As a tenured professor at a well-funded liberal arts university, you spend your days lecturing students on the differences between idiom and hyperbole, your weekends attending readings, lectures, and symposiums, and your summers working on a new translation of Ovid's complete works. You have yet to discover the meaning of life, but your children all went to college for free—thankfully not for poetry.


Bona Fide Bestseller. Salary: $200,000 

People have actually heard of you. Some of your collections have made it onto Oprah's Book Club list, you've been named the Poet Laureate of your home state, and you've got a house that makes Mark Zuckerberg wonder where he went wrong. Yet somehow you still capture the essence of working men and women that your fans have enjoyed throughout your career. Way to stay unpretentious.