Deakin University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Practising poetry: thinking form, emulation and formal invention

journal contribution
posted on 2017-04-01, 00:00 authored by Antonia PontAntonia Pont
This paper argues that poetry—as an example of a contemporary art practice—involves inventiveness at several registers deserving of articulation. Whereas established forms of practice stipulate in advance, to a certain degree, the form of the behaviour to be repeated as practice (the kata of martial arts, the words and rhythms of prayer, the technical gestures of archery), post-enlightenment artistic practices can differ from and extend this aspect of practice, in one important respect. If practice generally is that peculiar constellation of 'doing' that invites the radically new and courts innovation, then in the case of art the practice is doubly engaged with invention, since—after an apprenticeship—it welcomes innovation at the level of its own form. This paper will unpack this claim, with the aim of clarifying for practitioners of any art form, but especially poetry, the two registers at which they can note the appearance and role of newness and the difficulties faced in practising. It then takes up the example of emulation, casting anew its place in an emerging poetic or artistic practice. Emulation can be understood simply as a way practitioners lean on the behavioural forms and examples set by their predecessors or peers, in moments when they are strengthening practising itself. A practice, then, is likely to involve both of these modes: practising within existing, fertile behavioural forms (such as emulation), and phases of more far-reaching invention of the forms of that artistic practice itself. These indeed are entangled, however, a precision regarding practice's mechanisms, as well as an acknowledgement of emulation's contribution, it will be argued, can assist makers, but particularly poets, to identity at what register their making might be hindered. Is it that they actually lack a basic set of behaviours via which to pursue their work, or are they facing the inherent difficulty of art, which welcomes the invention of new forms? By acknowledging that art is doubly difficult as practice, due to its involving both a mustering of the stamina to practice and also invention at the level of form, the poet-artist can work with both greater deftness and patience.



TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs


Making it new: finding contemporary meanings for creativity


Special Issues Series Number 40

Article number



1 - 17


Australasian Association of Writing Programs


Nathan, Qld.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, Australasian Association of Writing Programs

Usage metrics

    Research Publications


    No categories selected