Diane di Prima is San Francisco's poet laureate. About "The poetry deal:" I committed myself to a life of poetry at the age of 14, as a sophomore in high school. I'd been writing some poetry since I was 7, but to me "commitment" meant that I'd write something every day, and would learn all I could about the craft of the poem. As the years passed, I kept doggedly at it, writing, studying obsessively, and always avoiding classes and workshops. By the time I was 24, I was putting out a book a year. Forty years after that commitment, it occurred to me that - selfless and unquestioning as the creative life is - there actually is something like a contract between me and my art.