In some people’s minds, I’m probably not qualified to say this, but I’ve been reading, writing, and creating (in one form or another) long enough to have formed an opinion, so here it is:
If you love poetry, you write it, you care about the craft, and you’re working on it, you’re a poet.
You may write terrible poetry—and I say that knowing I probably sometimes (often?) do—but you’re a poet. As long as you’re actively working on it.
Like you, I’m sometimes intimidated by the greats and the academics, but I won’t let that stop me. I’ve felt the power of poetry, and I believe, like many others do, that it belongs to everyone, not just the elite.
Having said that, you’ll notice I’ve got ‘rookie’ in my tagline. I do respect the years and decades that other poets have put into their craft, so I guess I’m acknowledging that I still have my training wheels on—and may for a while yet. 🙂
For some more perspectives on this subject, read this, especially the comments section: