Category: Poems

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.

Found text manipulation by Alison Whittaker

Hello poets and readers,

In an earlier blogpost about the work of Gomeroi poet and lawyer Alison Whittaker, I discussed her work with trigrams and the process behind the creation of poems like ‘the skeleton of the common law’ from her collection Blakwork, which Alison expanded on in our podcast. Thanks to her generosity in sharing her work, we’re now able to reproduce that poem so that our readers can see how she used the technique based on search engine optimisation, commenting on the law, as she says, without doing further injustice to the people affected by it.


the skeleton of the common law

‘This Court is not free to adopt rules that accord with contemporary notions 
of justice and human rights if their adoption would fracture the skeleton of 
principle which gives the body of our law its shape and internal consistency.’

Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1

The forty-nine most common three-word phrases in the Mabo decision, ranked.

The Murray Island –
The Murray Islands.
The common law
(By the Crown
Of the crown).
New South Wales,
The Meriam people
(Of the Colony
Of the Murray)
Rights and interests
Law – native title
Common law native
Of New South
(In the Crown)
The Privy Council
(Of the Island)
The Land Act
(Of the Meriam)
Governor in council
(The Governor in
The Aboriginal inhabitants)
The colony of
The Crown in
that. The Crown
Act of State.
Lands of the
Inhabitants of the –
– to the Crown.
Interests in land
(Of the Aboriginal
Of the Islands)
Consistent with the –
– the Common wealth
Title of the –
– the Crown to
The rights of –
V Attorney General
For the purpose
Of native title.
Vested in the
The indigenous inhabitants
The native inhabitants
In relation to –
With respect to –
The Crown, the –
Of the native
Racial Discrimination Act
By the common –
The Racial Discrimination
Alison Whittaker

Cristina Savin on Vasile Baghiu’s poetic chimerism

Hello poets and readers,

Welcome to our guest blogpost by Cristina Savin:-

At the heart of Baghiu’s poetry and process there exists a concept coined by the poet himself, chimerism. The concept encapsulates a tendency to escape everyday realities and to create a parallel universe, a counter-reality in which the poet lives. Baghiu remembers the defining moment where it all began. On 21 August 1988, a day that changed his life, he was working as a nurse in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Romania. He was smoking, enjoying Chinese tea and reading Flaubert’s The Art of Travel. In the background, a radio station was broadcasting in Italian. A foreign voice insinuated into his, a voice that seized his throat and his vocal chords making him talk about things he had never lived or seen. The world around him came to a standstill. He was overcome with a sense of tranquillity, inner peace and detachment from everyone and everything. He likes to call it ataraxia, some sort of poetic trance.

Multilingual poem by Merlinda Bobis

Introducing our podcast with Filipino-Australian poet Merlinda Bobis, I mentioned her poem ‘siesta’, an innovative multilingual work. In the podcast, she spoke about her writing in Filipino and English, and the way in which it is mediated by her first language, Bikol. Thanks to Merlinda’s generosity, we are able to reprint her poem ‘siesta’ in this blogpost so that readers can enjoy an example of her multilingual writing.

Sound as meaning experiment by Lisa Samuels

Hello poets and readers,

Have you read the Poetry in Process blogpost about Lisa Samuels and multiplicity yet? Don’t forget we’d love to hear any comments about what resonated with you. Today I am excited to bring you one of Lisa’s poems that experiments with sound as meaning and was featured in the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. This is a revised version included in her latest collection Foreign Native (Black Radish Books, 2018). Hope you enjoy it! 


People talk about the vanguard
takes a turn      its conscript energy
acts on macro-particles
as though you choose or Resolute
you’re given mesh back to the deal
your limbs eye dim harmonics
rise for tiny ones    Crash at you
crash at me      “give us a family look”

Found text manipulation by Melinda Smith

Hello poets and readers. Have you listened to the podcast with Melinda Smith yet? Don’t forget we’d love to hear any comments about what resonated with you. Today Poetry in Process is excited to bring you one of the found text poems Melinda referred to in the interview, about Ernie Ecob. Hope you enjoy it!

Ernie Ecob . . . was arguing against providing bathroom facilities in shearing sheds for female shearers because he said women only want to be shearers for the sex. My mind melted at the number of levels on which that was the weird and wrong thing to say. Melinda Smith

Poetry in Process Podcast, 28th February 2019

Ernie Ecob as a Bare-Bellied Yoe

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