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Poets and Writers Die Sooner

Daniel DeNoon reports research by James C. Kaufman that “Poets die sooner than playwrights. Playwrights die sooner than novelists. And novelists die sooner than nonfiction writers.” The article continues:

“Some of the reasons why poets have [been] found to be more likely to suffer from mental illness … may also be applicable to why poets are more likely to die young,” Kaufman writes. “Poetry may appeal to people who are more likely to be self-destructive.” But there’s also a more prosaic explanation, Kaufman acknowledges. Poets tend to achieve fame earlier than other kinds of writers. That puts them in the history books at a younger age — and gives them a better chance of being young when they die. Kaufman, however, prefers the explanation that fiction writers die younger because fiction is lonely work. Playwrights interact with directors and actors; journalists must interview and interact with newsmakers. Fiction writers have only the blank page.

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