Peter Minter
(Australia, 1967)   
Peter Minter

Since the mid 1990s, Peter Minter has caused a sensation in Australia through his exploration of the ecology that emerges where language, subjectivity and poetics meet in the texture and tissue of poetry. Minter’s work has generally reinvigorated debates about poetry’s function and form in Australia in terms of its relation to hermeneutics as much as to phenomenological representation. More simply, it investigates the tangled cultural and political web we are weaving  when we find our way through language to touch on being.

On his website, Peter offers the following biographical details which underscore the origin of his ongoing commitment to ecologies, cultural and natural: “He was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, to a family of coal miners, sailors and fishermen – his family sharing English, Scottish and Aboriginal ancestry. He grew up in Swansea, just south of Newcastle, where from an early age he explored the shores of Lake Macquarie, learnt to fish, catch prawns and crabs with miners’ lamps on new-moon nights, and surf during the days after school. At the age of fifteen he moved with his family to Quorrobolong, near the Watagan Mountains of the lower Hunter Valley, and soon took a strong interest in writing, painting and photography. He spent days wandering or horse riding through the bush, closely observing the rural and forested environment around his home, and recording ideas for his earliest stories and poems.”

Minter received the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for Poetry in 1999, and in 2000 he was awarded The Age Poetry Book of the Year for Empty Texas. His editorial projects include founding the Varuna New Poetry broadsheet, co-founding and co-editing Cordite Poetry and Poetics Review and Calyx: 30 Contemporary Australian Poets, and editing poetry at Meanjin from 2000 to 2005. At Meanjin he also guest-edited two special issues, ‘Poetics’ (60.2, 2001) and ‘Blak Times: Indigenous Australia’ (65.1, 2006). More recently, he has co-edited the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature and the forthcoming Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature. His work appears in wide range of Australian and international electronic and print publications, and is anthologised in The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry. He is a Lecturer in Indigenous Studies at the Koori Centre, University of Sydney, where he teaches Indigenous cultural, legal and literary studies, specialising particularly in ecopoetics and aesthetic responses to country, sovereignty and identity.

At the launch of his first full collection, Empty Texas, Robert Adamson placed Minter as a successor to Mallarmé, though as with Adamson’s long poem ‘The Rumour’, the contemporary reinterpretation of Mallarmé’s jeu par excellence has more to do with excavating cultural white noise than purifying the language. John Kinsella observed that Minter’s work was ‘as if David Lynch ha[d]written a screen play of the life of Alfred Jarry’, while Ron Silliman simply noted its energy and grace, saying “I want to read more!”

From the testing of the lyric in his first book Rhythm in A Dorsal Fin, which was shortlisted for the 1996 New South Wales Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, to the Mallarmean echoes of Empty Texas, up to the most recent Homeric wanderings of blue grass, Minter’s work has remained exceptional for its ability to enter language as a landscape, to negotiate the interstices of culture and nature and to play with and deploy the conceits of poetry and the subject, often mock-heroic and sometimes unreconstructed. Within the accumulation and agglomeration of its slabs of syllabics, it continually creates a lush and organic song headlong into the fragmentation through which perception is renewed as language. Pam Brown says it best: “Peter Minter, irrational Mallarmiste for a new generation, write on!”

(Biographical information provided by Peter Minter and taken from Peter’s website ‘yonder’).

© Michael Brennan



Rhythm in a Dorsal Fin, Five Islands Press, Wollongong, 1995

Empty Texas (A Selection) (folio) Salt, Cambridge, 1998

Empty Texas, Paper Bark Press, Brooklyn, 1999

Morning, Hyphen, Vagabond, Sydney, 2000

Morning, Hyphen, Equipage, Cambridge UK, 2003
blue grass, Salt Publishing, Cambridge UK, 2006

As Editor
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature (with Anita Heiss)
, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2008

Calyx: 30 Contemporary Australian Poets (with Michael Brennan), Paper Bark Press, Brooklyn, NSW, 2000

Peter Minter in conversation with Australian poet Ken Bolton for Jacket
Rosanna Licari interviews Peter Minter for Stylus Magazine

‘Murdering Alphabets, Disorienting Romance: John Tranter and Postmodern Australian Poetics', Peter Minter and Kate Fagan in Jacket

Peter Minter reviews Jill Jones’ Struggle and Radiance in Jacket

More poems
Peter Minter audio on The Cortland Review
Poems in Slope

Peter Minter website 'yonder':
/>Peter Minter myspace:
/>Peter Minter, Koori Centre, University of Sydney homepage:
Angela Gardner reviews ‘morning, hyphen’
Bev Braune reviews blue grass in Cordite
Peter Riley reviews blue grass in Jacket
Tim Thorne reviews blue grass in Famous Reporter
Pam Brown ‘engages’ blue grass in galatea ressurects #8
Lauren Wilson reviews the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature  in The Australian
Susan Wyndham reviews the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature in Sydney Morning Herald
Kevin Brophy reviews the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature in Eureka Street



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