In an interview in the Paris Review, Adrienne Rich said, "I don’t know that poetry itself has any universal or unique obligations. It’s a great ongoing human activity of making, over different times, under different circumstances. For a poet, in this time we call “ours,” in this whirlpool of disinformation and manufactured distraction? Not to fake it, not to practice a false innocence, not pull the shades down on what’s happening next door or across town. Not to settle for shallow formulas or lazy nihilism or stifling self-reference."
One of the best American essays is Adrienne Rich's "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying." In it, she writes "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her." Let this be our task as poets.
I think the task of the poet is to remain true to one's own experience. The poem comes from the body; the body should be reflected in the poem. The poem comes out of a particular place in the world. The poet needs to be cognizant of the landscape and also her own position and perspective within it.
A good poet is aware of the underground of the subject and form of her work.This could be the history, context, connections, and language.
A good poet is open to surprise. Is intuitive. Sometimes in the writing of the poem, an accident of language, a juxtaposition of image, an error brings a startling insight. In the practice of poetry, one strives for a deliberating openness.
A collection of a poet's work reveals vision: a perspective, motivation, goal. A poet's work provides a landscape and a story, different for each poet, and a language that reaches beyond the individual toward the community or the divine or the one lone reader somewhere in the future, paging through a book, wanting the heart, or a piercing light into the center of life.