The Poetic Vocation

Hello poets and readers,

At a time when the work of many artists is sidelined by COVID, the issue of earning a living from art is more glaring than ever. As a poet you know that very few poets earn a living from their work and have to do something else to survive. So why do we do it? One answer came to me when an elderly reader of mine told me she was going to include one of my poems in her funeral notes. The poem helped her express something, and her response helps me value my vocation as a poet: it has an important role in the community, and being a poet is a calling from which there’s no escape, even if you wanted one.

In my essay ‘The poetic vocation’ recently published in Qualitative Inquiry, I describe the process of writing and what it’s like to work seriously at a vocation that is all-consuming, and that has to include regular doses of play to nourish the creativity that’s at its heart. The article includes original poems, mostly in the prose poem form, to illustrate the ideas discussed, and refers to Max Weber’s ideas about vocation in politics and Vincent Dubois’ research into cultural vocations.

You can access the article here from Qualitative Inquiry.

Or, you can read the accepted version (which is only slightly different to the final published version) on my Academia page for free.

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