## Wednesday, 17 June 2009

### How Many Poets Are There?

Over the last 12 years, I've been mapping a number of inductive statistical models which chart the growth of the world Poet-Population across a variety of contrasting demographics. This brief summary of my analysis is dedicated to Seth Abramson and Ron Silliman . . .

Research Outline

The term "Poet-Population" (PP) commonly refers to the total number of living poets on Earth at a given time. As of May 31, 2009, the Earth's Poet-Population is estimated by the United States Census Bureau to be 6,792,467,727. The world Poet-Population has been growing continuously since the first circulation of Petrarch's Canzoniere in the 1330s. There were short-term falls however at other times due to lack of inspiration, for example in the mid 18th century. The fastest rates of world Poet-Population growth (above 1.8%) were seen briefly during the 1950s (see Projectivism) then for a longer period during the 1960s and 1970s. This can be seen on the following graph :

According to Poet-Population projections, the Poet-Population will continue to grow until around 2050. The 2008 rate of growth has almost halved since its peak of 2.2% per year, which was reached in 1963. World Poet-Births have levelled off at about 137-million-per-year, since their peak at 163-million in the late 1990s, and are expected to remain constant. However, Poet-Deaths are only around 56 million per year, and are expected to increase to 90 million by the year 2050. Since births outnumber deaths, the Poet-Population is expected to reach about 9 billion by the year 2040.

Different regions have different rates of Poet-Population growth. According to our statistical mapping, the growth in the Poet-Population of different regions from 2000 to 2005 was:

237.771 million in Asia
92.293 million in Africa
38.052 million in Latin America
16.241 million in Northern America
1.955 million in Oceania
-3.264 million in Europe
383.047 million in the whole world

In the 20th century, the world saw the biggest increase in its Poet-Population in human history due to a range of factors including grants, word processors, and the formation of poets into tightly cohesive groups. In 2000, the United Nations estimated that the world's Poet-Population was growing at the rate of 1.14% (or about 75 million poets) per year, down from a peak of 88 million per year in 1989. In the last few centuries, the number of poets living on Earth has increased many times over. By the year 2000, there were 10 times as many poets on Earth as there were 300 years ago. According to data from the CIA's 2005–2006 World Factbooks, the world Poet-Population increased by 203,800 every day. The CIA Factbook increased this to 211,090 poets every day in 2007, and again to 220,980 poets every day in 2009.

Statistical Models

Hoerner (1975) proposed the following formula for calculating the world Poet-Population :

$N = \frac{C}{T_0-T}$

where

• N is current number of poets
• T is the current year
• C = 2·1011
• T0 = 2025

The formula indicates hyperbolic growth of the Poet-Population.

According to Kapitza (1997), the Poet-Population grew between 67000 b.c. and 1965, and the world Poet-Population growth formula is:

$N = \frac{C}{\tau} \arccot \frac{T_0-T}{\tau}$

where

• N is current Poet-Population
• T is the current year
• C = (1.86±0.01)·1011
• T0 = 2007±1
• τ = 42±1

The transition from hyperbolic growth of the Poet-Population to slower rates of growth is called demographic poetic transition.

Summary and Predictions

Globally, the Poet-Population growth rate has been steadily declining from its peak of 2.19% in 1963, but growth remains high in Latin America, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In some countries there is negative Poet-Population growth (i.e. net decrease in the Poet-Population over time), especially in Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Africa. Within the next decade, Japan and some countries in Western Europe are also expected to encounter negative Poet-Population growth.

The United Nations states that Poet-Population growth is rapidly declining, and is expected to peak at 9.2 billion in 2050.

Anonymous said...

your numbers seem exceedingly conservative... cv

csperez said...

nicholas,

with all due respect, there are 500 poets on achiote press' mailing list. do you mean to tell me that i'm in personal email contact with .00000001% of the ENTIRE poet-population? you need to rethink this, and while you're at, can you compile a list of poetry links and all the mfa's in poetry around the world? i will happily donate to your paypal ;)

what,
c

Nicholas Manning said...

craig, with all due vehemence, i was in a conference call the other night with around 8,000 poets from India's Jharkhand province and only 1,248 of them had even heard of you. so who's got numbers trouble now?

Anonymous said...

LOL

a

derek said...

i know at least a billion poets personally - i'm familiar with the work of a handful more. your report really captures the vague ambivalence i've often felt about the whole situation.

Thomas Basbøll said...

this rocks

Thank you for doing this. I have been writing poetry nearly all my life. Last year, I nearly stopped. I think it has something to do with the numbers. There are so many poems, so many poets. I felt like I was just contributing to some kind of pollution, suddenly. This coming from someone who admires the work of others, and who honors that need and drive in myself. I'm grieving, somehow and I can't explain it. But there I was, asking the question, "How many?" and there you were with an answer. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I recently calculated that, allowing for an average of 1 poem per page (and using typical letter size paper) it would take over 56.5 million poems to cover just Central Park. Obviously, we'll need every one of those 6+ billion poets to get started on poeming the world.

Moi

Anonymous said...

According to the US Census Bureau, there are only 6.96 billion people in the entire world as of 2009. How could there be as many poets as there are people (including babies) in the world?

Is that a metaphysical number.

Anonymous said...

How about a study of the number of people who actually read poetry, besides their own?