Australia

The unusual poetry of Australian magnate Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Clive Palmer is a billionaire mining magnate and former MP

He is the Australian mining tycoon who opened a dinosaur theme park, vowed to build a replica Titanic, and spent three years as a maverick MP.

But Clive Palmer, who retired from politics last year, is seizing attention again - this time with poetry.

His verses, which he posts on social media, have been prolific in recent weeks. They are brief and at times bewildering, just as some described his parliamentary stint.

Image copyright @CliveFPalmer
Image copyright @CliveFPalmer
Image copyright @CliveFPalmer

So how does Mr Palmer explain it?

"Poetry doesn't really have a meaning," he told Fairfax Media. The famously large man attributed his creativity in part to a recent diet.

"When you're on diet you think about food a lot, and poetry sort of comes from within you."

His compositions have amused - and confused - his more than 70,000 followers.

Image copyright @SenatorLudlam
Image copyright @Julesthe4rd
Image copyright @EleanorRigby
Image copyright @sega_95

One newspaper columnist wrote: "No, we don't know what it means, and neither does Clive." Another speculated: "Maybe he's gunning for a new career as Australia's edgiest poet."

The poems have been read by YouTube comedian Lewis Spears, who joked Mr Palmer was "a modern Shakespeare". They will also be recorded by an electronic music duo, Peking Duk.

Mr Palmer is not the first Australian mining magnate to gain attention for poetry. Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, once wrote a critically derided poem titled "Our Future", which was later fixed to an iron ore boulder.


Who is Clive Palmer?

  • An Australian billionaire who has often courted controversy, Mr Palmer has been compared to Donald Trump.
  • He invested in real estate before building a mining fortune once valued at A$5bn (£3bn; $3.8bn).
  • He famously vowed to build a Titanic replica, and created a dinosaur theme park in Queensland.
  • He won a seat in Australia's House of Representatives in 2013, but did not contest the 2016 election.
  • He recently faced court over the collapse of a nickel operation, which cost 800 jobs.

"Wordsworth talked about poetry being the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, and I think in Clive's case the origin of poetry comes from a spontaneous overflow of hunger," said Associate Prof Bronwyn Lea, who teaches poetry at the University of Queensland.

"But I think it has its own kind of joie de vivre."

Although the poems "don't display a good deal of skill or attention", Prof Lea suggested frequent mentions of "Moondog" and "Mockingbird" could be references to two famous Americans - poet Louis Thomas Hardin and novelist Harper Lee.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Palmer spent three years in Australia's House of Representatives

"It's a little bit in the tradition of Yoko Ono and her 'action-poems' which were popular in the 1960s, smashed up with a recipe," she told the BBC. "But that would be reading a lot into it."

In 2015, Mr Palmer was invited to the Queensland Poetry Festival to read from a self-published book of love poetry he wrote in the 1980s. He has also revealed his favourite writers include Robert Frost, TS Elliot and William Shakespeare.

"I'd encourage him to continue reading those poets as well as to read broadly among contemporary Australian poets," Prof Lea said.

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