Last night I went to a poetry open mic, and the hostess (with mic and PA system) did not show up. Three of us poets did - and it resulted in a really serious discussion about publishing and the value of words preserved on paper. One of our number was a very shy guy in his early twenties. He writes elaborate and evocative blurts, highly emotive and far from the bland job he has (working nights in a supermarket.) Another is the Hindi writer and educator Dr. Joshi Hosni. He writes in a very formal English, and his new chapbook is a tranlation of his Hindi poems. Dr. J writes about the textrues of everyday life - and is almost evangelistic about convincing his audience to join his point of view. (It is also notable that this gentleman is a Brahmin, an educated and monied upper class person.) Then there was me, female spontaneous poet with nothing published lately. Definately not upper class.
So, Dr. J's stance was that being published will make you immortal, that being on paper is the most important part of writing. Shy guy wants desperately to publish, but feels his stuff is too personal. I do on-the-spot pieces which savor and include the works of other poets I have appreciated in an eening. My stance is: you don't have to publish to be immortal. If you create an authentic place that you can share with your audience, and even one person carries away something that enriches his or her life or point of view, then you live in that other person's enlarged life, and you are immortal. What do you think?