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Is Clive Palmer Creating Some Of The Greatest Post-Modern Poetry Of Our Time?

From politician to poet, and we didn't even know it.

17/10/2017 1:33 PM AEDT | Updated 17/10/2017 1:33 PM AEDT
Stefan Postles via Getty Images
"Young fans across Australia have wholeheartedly embraced the ex-politician’s appropriation of youth, pop, and meme culture."

"A beginning is that which is not a necessary consequent of anything else but after which something else exists or happens as a natural result."

-- Aristotle Poetics 1450b

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer's path to postmodern poetic ascendency perhaps didn't follow the formulaic pedagogical tradition of Milton and Virgil, but the poet certainly had foundational developments that would seem to presage his foray into modern poetical tradition.

Perhaps it was his typo-ridden publication 'Dreams, Hopes and Reflections' published at age 26 in 1981, which contained a collection of his more sobering early musings.

Perhaps after an ephemeral political career he took Shelley's aphorism "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world" a little too seriously.

Perhaps he understood Wordsworth's sentiment that "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" to include the hunger arising from his strict one-Mint-Slice-a-day diet.

Whatever the cause, Palmer's decision to re-enter the world of modern poetry proved successful among scores of young fans across Australia who have wholeheartedly embraced the ex-politician's appropriation of youth, pop, and meme culture.

But whilst Clive's work features a strange mix of what appear to be political quips, admissions from a compulsive eater... and something about a "dog on the grog", there's one question which the Poet himself can't answer -- are these musings and memes really art?

March 3 marked a day of poetic transcendence and obvious inspiration for Clive, who penned not one but three epigrams dealing with truly 'Clivean' themes such as human freedom, hunger and, of course, Clive's enamoured grog dog -- perhaps representative of the Poet's erudition in following the grand tradition of poetic depictions of pets, as in Ovid's parrot or Catullus' sparrow.

Enjambment and obvious disregard for proper grammatical placeholders and syntax artfully mirrors his subject matter to advocate for a free and independent poetic form, one not bound by the rules of Grammar.

Malapropism of 'your' instead of 'you're' boldly asserts Clive's freedom to disobey the rules of the English language. Palmer's structural decision to include only two lines with a single word, "Be... free" amidst a series of line breaks adds an interesting subtext that supports his exhortation to readers to claim their independence.

No stranger to multimedia, Clive here integrates an image of what appears to be an inebriated dog with a trifling poem to provide a subtle yet convincing defamation of aristocratic society and its antediluvian mannerisms.

The early antithesis "Kanine martinis" juxtaposes "martinis", here a part of Clive's overarching metaphor for the whims of the English aristocracy, with "kanine [canine]" to ridicule these patrician mannerisms by employing an obviously low-brow, bestial qualifier.

Clive continues his derision with an isocolon that appropriates Fleming's catchphrase to continue his canine comparison.

Clive ends his fragment with a climactic declarative sentence "Makes him fart a lot" which uses puerile 'potty-humour' as a final rebuttal to the obsequious social conventions embodied in 'James Bond' and shaken martinis.

Hunger, perhaps the most prominent correlative theme of all Clive's works has cemented the ex-politician's association with Mint Slices, and in particular, Tim Tams into the modern Australian psyche.

In this fragment, Clive follows his rhetorical question with anaphora that places "I [himself]" at the front of the line to convey the egoism produced by his gastric affections.

Simple, staccato sentence structure alludes to the controlling power of hunger to diminish the capacity for logic, elegance and expression -- furthered by the solecism "a lettuce" which demonstrates how Clive's hunger not only robs him of his characteristic elegance, but even produces grammatical errors.

Just three hours later Clive reaches what Aristotle, in his systematic treatise on poetry 'Poetics', termed the peripeteia -- or reversal of the protagonists position. After professing his love for hamburgers, Clive is quick to reject the fast-food staple with an imperative "Give up" followed by an persuasive appeal to logos "Raw onion makes you feel good" which Pedestrian editor, Sam George-Allen, notes is "as sinister and discomforting as a man with a knife telling you to sit down immediately".

After what seemed like a defiant statement against hamburgers, with the adjectival choice "fried" giving credence to the popular conjecture that this was part of Clive's grander plan to eat healthier and achieve his 100kg goal -- the poet seems to undergo his anagnorisis, or recognition of fate, just five days later.

Evidently tired of the cognitive debates that underwrote his discussion of hamburgers just days ago, Clive yields to his hunger in a pithy rhyme that makes a bold statement of denouncing reason in favour of caving in to animalistic desires.

As if to further accentuate desire's triumph over reason, Clive returns to his use of frequent line breaks, enjambment and lack of appropriate grammatical placeholders as well as continued gustatory imagery in defiance of the rationalism, grammatical correctness and appeal to logos that characterised his poetry just days ago.

Clive's continual concession to his culinary desires mark the poet's hamartia, or fatal flaw. Here Palmer employs allusions to the infamous, Australian gas station treat "chico rolls" in consecutive diacopes to amplify the ever vociferous and all-consuming vim of hunger over his meek attempts at rationalism and, more ostensibly, dieting.

"Clive would you mind if I hung this on my wall?" Anonymous Commenter -- October 12, 2017.

"The world has desperately missed these literary gems." Anonymous Commenter -- October 12, 2017.

But for all his trifling, Clive's transparent struggle between rationalism and his more base desires; his willingness to combine humour, candour and a discussion of universal concerns, and his use of symbolism, recurrent motifs and images have all created a loyal and receptive fanbase to stage his poetic musings.

Aphoristic assertions and rhetorical questions such as those above lace the comments section of all his posts and mark a distinct, positive emotional impact that even Aristotle wouldn't hesitate to call a catharsis -- an emotional impact on the audience.

Although Palmer's 'Poetics' may be unorthodox -- to say the least -- and markedly postmodern, his lucid experimentation with form and subject combined with his evident adherence to Aristotelian dramatic precepts confirm his work to be more than simple trifles to be laughed at and dismissed. They confirm his work to be issuing a legitimate statement, and above all, they confirm his work to be art .

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