Drink, write very little, diddle students, generally have license to misbehave while sponging off friends and other nonprofi t organizations.
$$: $350 per annum from your actual poetry or if you're serious about a career in the business, you earn whatever college professors are making this year, plus what you get from these very cool writer-in-residence gigs you can apply for.
The upside: Unlimited sex from adoring fans. The knowledge that your pain can be turned into something of artistic and/or commercial value. The right to drink all night and wake up at dusk.
The downside: You give a reading of your work at a small lecture hall of a university that does such things. They put you up at the Travelodge. The night of the reading, you go to dinner with the head of the English department at a sad, empty place that still features a blue plate special. Eight people show up at your reading. One of them has a bottle in a brown paper bag and is dressed wrong for the season. Afterward, you go out for drinks with him.
The dark side: You are a dead caboose sitting empty on a neglected piece of track somewhere in a forgotten rail yard. You tell yourself that when you're dead, you will be appreciated. All things considered, that seems like a long time to wait.
Where you go from here: Greeting card writer.