Dial Pi for Poetry

by Martin Veres

I was lucky enough to be able shoot a few questions to the winner of last year's Free from Stigma writing competition (poetry section), Victoria-based maths teacher, Peter Collins. For more, you can check out his winning entry, NO, here.

MV: Congratulations on being the winning poet of our Free from Stigma competition. Your poem NO was obviously a reaction to some of the no campaign's more unusual tactics in the lead up to last year's plebiscite on marriage equality. Now that you're on the right side of the history divide, how do you feel? Have you ever considered expressing your thoughts through skywriting?

PC: My politics have always been left/ green. The drift into conservatism that is supposed to arrive in sensible middle age, never has. I’ve always written the odd poem here or there for something to do, and in the past few years this has picked up/ gotten out of hand. Rather than drift into right wing comfort, I have actively sought out more mind broadening sources of news/ information. The wonders of Facebook do enhance this. Some people exchange pictures of their dinner, others look up the pages of indigenous education sites, feminist blogs, anti-fascist activists, environmental pages. I read these, and some of them act as prompts for my mysterious subconscious to create work based on them. It does not pay well, but my FB friend list has become quite diverse.

MV: I'm personally a big fan of cross-disciplinary endeavours, so it's nice to see a maths teacher branching out into poetry. What made you decide to delve into that world?

PC: Why poems? I like them. I like the rhyming type predominantly. I do read free verse, but it is not me. Courtesy of the poetic practice, some of my non-poetry work probably does read as free verse-ish i.e., a bit of metaphor/ simile/ patterns/ rhythm.

MV: Have you considered using poetry (or creative writing more generally) to teach maths? Or has your understanding of mathematics influenced the production of your creative writing?

PC: Maths/ poetry? Not much link – I have used it very rarely and written the odd maths based piece. I would actually think that my poetry, with its emphasis on creativity, flexibility, structure, work out precisely what you want to say and how you are going to say it before you start approach, is more of an influence on my maths teaching rather than vice versa.

MV: We'd love for you to continue entering our competitions (and others, naturally). Do you have any writing in the works, and are you planning to passionately pursue your poetical… pursuits?

PC: I continually work on things. Sometimes they are for friends – I wrote a poem for a workmate who was in a car smash, wrote another for someone who missed out on a job, a sister in law with a brain tumour, etc. Some are specific, some are a bit more universal. A few years ago, in response to the “controversy” stirred up in response to Fremantle council’s decision to ditch their 26th Jan. fireworks, I wrote a poem in response, totally tongue in cheek, about how outrageous this was. Not knowing whether this was irony at its finest, or actually offensive, I sent it to the Blackfulla Revolution FB page via message to ask. They liked and published it. I have sent them other stuff on a regular basis. A couple of years ago, I came across a fake patriot page – The Million Flag Patriots – (taking the p*** out of the right wing slimebags who are clagging the net and occasionally the streets). I became their poet in residence, producing pseudo patriotic clap trap in traditional (bad) rhyming style. Apart from that, I produce stuff and post it on my page/ friend’s pages and enter the odd comp.

MV: Is there anything else you'd like to add? (harr harr)

PC: Other things to add? I’ll add [one of] my latest pieces, a poem inspired by our deputy PM.


- Peter Collins

Try to list his skills and virtues:-
Integrity, Public Speaking, Thought,
P.R., moral compass, work ethic,
The sum total so far is – nought.
Forming ideas,
Walking while chewing,
Knows where he is,
(Or what he’s doing).
Plus evidence of common sense:-
The total score remains the same.
Who hired this goose?
Who is to blame?

This is harsh, a bit unfair,
We should not totally despair
His talent to do sweet stuff all;
For now we’ve proof
That part of him works.
i.e. the delivery tube
For at least one functional ball.

Written by SCWC

Posted on February 20, 2018