Robert Lee Coburn
25 June 1994 (age 24)
Life and work
Coburn was born in Melbourne and grew up on his family's farm just north of Melbourne's outer suburbs in the semi-rural locality of Woodstock, Victoria, which is a large focus of his poetry. He was educated at Whittlesea Primary School and Assumption College, Kilmore and briefly studied at La Trobe University before dropping out of his degree. He began writing poetry at the age of 14, influenced by the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Coburn's first published poem appeared in anarchist poet Pi O's literary journal Unusual Work when he was 17 years old and he has since been published in many journals and magazines, including Poetry, Meanjin, Island and Westerly. Some of his poems have also been included in major anthologies.
Coburn’s poetry is known for its highly personal, sometimes confronting nature, as well as his use of evocative, visceral imagery and Christian iconography, always executed using a carefully refined poetic craft. His raw, violent and emotionally charged imagery, often focussing on the human body, has drawn comparisons with the work of the painter Francis Bacon. His poetry has addressed topics such as childhood, relationships, isolation, death, religion and faith, trauma, mental illness and addiction.
His poems are generally written in free verse using a lyric style. He is also notable for his writing of haiku, with poems appearing in esteemed publications such as Modern Haiku, Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest and the Red Moon and Haiku Society of America's anthologies.
His major influences include Robert Adamson, Arthur Rimbaud, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, William Blake, Dante, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Geoffrey Hill and Matsuo Basho, among others. He is also inspired by the work of American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, and by various artists and painters, particularly Caravaggio.
In answer to the question of why he writes poetry, Coburn has said "It simply isn’t a conscious decision I make to write poetry, but an impulsion that cannot be ignored. Poetry photographs parts of life and humanity that can’t be captured visually, at least in a literal sense. It dissects the hopelessness of being alive and makes it seem to develop meaning momentarily, even if it never actually does. If our most private and affecting inner thoughts and memories, the ones we keep silently at the backs of our minds, were given a voice, it would be poetry. That is what poetry is to me." 
- The Other Flesh. (UWA Publishing, 2019)
- Writing to the Wire. Dan Disney (ed.), Kit Kelen (ed.) (UWA Publishing, 2016)
- To End All Wars. Dael Allison (ed.), Anna Couani (ed.), Kit Kelen (ed.), Les Wicks (ed.) (Puncher & Wattmann, 2018)
- a hole in the light: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2018. Jim Kacian (ed.) (Red Moon Press, 2019)