Is poetry really ‘the tyrannical discipline’?

This is how Sylvia Plath described the art form, but three contemporary poets have very different views.
Poetry. Image is a sheet of paper with some lines written across it and a fountain pen with the lid off.

What does it mean to be a poet in a world where poetry is seen both as a concern and a calling, a prayer and a practice? Three accomplished Australian poets around Australia show how poetry fits in alongside, but also gives rise to, other tasks. There are the tasks of ‘filing to work, this poem a fishbone in my briefcase’, as the Irish poet Nick Laird would have it, but also the task of reconciling society’s wounds, whether racial or cultural, or devoting oneself to the art of love. 

These three poets vary in age, gender and ethnicity, but have in common the devotion to a form of soulful engineering that consoles as well as constructs. ArtsHub speaks with them separately, but together their comments form a conversation about a strange profession where the works talk to each other as well as to the writers themselves. They are compelling figures and have urgent ideas about what it means to be in the world now. 

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Vanessa Francesca is a writer who has worked in independent theatre. Her work has appeared in The Age, The Australian and Meanjin