Peter Clynes wrote his first poem when he was eight years old; his grandmother told him she loved it so he took that as a sign of good things to come. He started writing again more seriously later in high school. Since then he’s written and performed a lot of performance and page poetry. Now he’s at RMIT studying Creative Writing and Mandarin. He hopes to one day write scripts for both video games and obscene cartoons.
Bird SongCrow lands, downwards hop from swoop cold air parts under claws ardent black feathers hard stance, 2 ounce samurai wind mixes sparrows. bodies juggled under clouds casually exploding nowhere on each buffet Crow’s song breaks into morning dark suited birds exchange pointed glances important faces agree now it is time to sing puff-chested businessmen looking carefully at their colleagues red round berries push themselves up off twigs and dance along the branches. tiny birds share the sweet treasure picking at the constellation grove Crow lifts wing flush raiment responds tight, silent. instant grave stroke
Home Brewwhen he came into your apartment you planted him and the coffee you poured was so strong it was life affirming and you talked eye to eye on things he knew more instantly than the taste of the coffee and you were drunk on the coffee and the coffee shook your hand and he swallowed lungfuls of your coffee and the coffee threw his coat on the floor and you and he and your coffee spent the night percolating through each other’s hair brewing on the heat of each other’s breath
Taxi Driverso tired, a taxi driver’s pupil hangs loose from his eye he unties it, lets it dangle from the rear view traffic moves like oatmeal through a shoe mariachi jerk and spatter of engines sound collecting in his ears like small rocks the hot sun knocks at his doors and the taxi driver lets down a window in the side of his head pigeons – hungry soft balloons full of city dust and flight open their eyes above the skyline and four million lives they land like tubs of yoghurt thrown from a bus and pick at garbage he drives past them, moving, unseen
Who are you reading now and why do they turn you on?
At the moment I’m reading (listening to) Earl Sweatshirt. He’s a young rapper most notably related to Odd Future, and I really love him for two reasons. First, his lyrics are so powerfully vulgar and awesomely repugnant, but he still executes every line with the lyrical control of a serious poet. Second, Earl, being nineteen, is only a few months my senior, and I’ve always been impressed with his candour and creativity on issues of young male identity and aggression, particularly what it means to strike with words instead of fists. I listen to all sorts of hip-hop constantly and consider it to be very influential in the way I write page as well as performance poetry.
In terms of more traditional poetry, my all time favourite poet is Tomas Tranströmer. He’s probably the only poet whose collected works I’ve read from cover to cover. I treat his collected works as a kind of bible, and usually end up going back to it every few weeks. Those who also like him can probably see the strength of his influence in my writing, particularly in his seemingly tenuous relationship to reality. The way Tranströmer can call details out from the woodwork of everyday life by naming vague metaphysical shapes around them is what draws me to all poetry. It’s like having your head stuck in the clouds and benefitting from it.
How often do you write? Do you have a writing practice?
I write constantly, for my uni work, for all kinds of things around my college, as well as for myself. My writing practice is mostly obsessing over ideas. I get symbols, metaphors and lyrics stuck in my head for weeks at a time, and I try to use pen and paper to see why. I also really like automatic writing for the same reason. Putting down a line because the metering or a simile or an implicature in it amuses me, then using that as a kind of pipeline into what I found amusing is usually how I write.
I can’t emphasise the importance of obsession to my ‘writing practice’. One of the reasons I consider hip-hop to be so important to my writing is because learning about rapping and freestyling has taught me to keep a rhyme scheme or a particular metering in my head for days and weeks at a time. Even though the rhymes rarely make it on to the page, I think the constraints of working around a rhythm are very helpful in trying to automate your writing, particularly because it gives you an excuse to not feel like you’re wasting your words.
When you think of Australian poetry, do you see an elephant in the room? If so, what is it?
I think I’m probably too young to answer half this question. I really don’t know enough about reading Australian poetry to seriously tackle this. The only Australian poets I really know much about are Dransfield, Forbes and Wright, and it’s hard to say there’s much wrong with any of those three.
As far as writing ‘Australian poetry’, I would say there are a few dangerous taboos that can make roadblocks for young writers. Gender identity is one of those taboos, but also an obsession of mine. I think it’s because I think about sex so much, as much as my own ‘manhood’, being only one year out of an all-boys school. On that note, I feel really constrained in writing about male identity. I want to pick at all the holes I can find in my psyche, but at the same time, the kind of power in a uniquely male Australian poetic voice (as I see it) comes from its restraint. In that way, I want to be as open and forthright as Sharon Olds, but as measured and purposeful as the late Seamus Heaney. I don’t see myself ever really writing on either of their respective levels, but I think many Australian writers of all identities, in or outside of their relationship to gender, walk a similar tightrope.