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Poetry lives on

Brentley Frazer from Bareknuckle Poet Journal of Letters talks about poetry and how Bareknuckle are celebrating World Poetry Day...

2016, the peak of history, no human has ventured further and I keep hearing that poetry is dead. I’ve not worked out whether those who say this mean the art of writing metric verse has curled up like an old cat, or Beauty and Wonder have taken their last gasp, regardless, as we celebrate World Poetry Day, I declare poetry as valid and vital as ever. 

I liken poetry to a strand of our human spirit’s DNA, our original form of communication, a part of the evolution of human consciousness. As Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO says in celebration of the poet: “By giving form and words to that which has none – such as the unfathomable beauty that surrounds us, the immense suffering and misery of the world – poetry contributes to the expansion of our common humanity, helping to increase its strength, solidarity and self-awareness." 

I started writing poetry as a child but, back then, I always imagined having a great time flying aeroplanes when I grew up. For me poetry is a combination of fascination with the way we communicate (the way we speak is the way we think), and a form of therapy. I spent my teens writing and studying poetry and, after failing high school, panicked and began submitting my poems. After several years of rejections and worrying I’d wasted my carefree youth caring about something I was terrible at, I had my first poem published when I was nineteen. Now I don’t know how to do anything else. Poetry has become my day job, both as a professional practising poet, the editor-in-chief of Bareknuckle Poet and as a lecturer in poetry at Griffith University. 

My job is to show students how to appreciate poetry and after seeing many experience an epiphany, I’ve come to realise that all you need is to give it a chance. Read a poem, don’t expect anything, don’t assume you need to ‘understand’, simply look at it and discover what happens, like you would a painting at GoMA. A poem will tell you something, maybe about the world, perhaps about yourself. Whatever poetry tells you, it is as unique to you as your double helix.

To celebrate World Poetry day Bareknuckle Poet Journal of Letters is holding an amateur poetry competition. If you write poetry, or if you know someone who writes and needs encouragement, the rules are simple. A single poem, any length, by a poet who has not yet ever been published. 

We will select ten entries for publication in a special online edition at and the winning entry from this shortlist will be published in our print journal Bareknuckle Poet Anthology 2016 alongside some of the most critically acclaimed poets and writers in the world. The winning poet will be invited to read their work at the Anthology launch at the Brisbane Writers Festival in September 2016. Read about the Bareknuckle Poet Anthology 2015 at The Australian.


Brently Frazer

Brentley Frazer is an Australian poet, editor, academic and publisher. His work has appeared online since the internet and in print since 1991. Currently he is a lecturer and tutor in poetry at Griffith University. Find him at, on twitter @brentleyfrazer or at fb BrentleyFrazerAuthor




All images courtesy Brentley Frazer