It was year 10 and I had just gotten my drivers license and I was a teenager in Texas. My mother was in Germany, stationed there as a military nurse for the 2003 incursion post 9/11. My brother was in his final years of university and had aced it, top of class basically all the way through. My dad was busy building a successful business and I was coming to grips with who I was as a teenager. I wasn’t sporty, I was in the choir. I wasn’t incredibly intelligent, but I made up for that in my social skills and ability to bring people together.
I started writing for the school student newspaper. It was simple; opinion pieces on movies and restaurants. I suggested eateries for first dates and movies that were ‘parent-approved’…as well as otherwise. Our English teacher said my style was far too informal and I was criticised heavily for my overuse of adjectives.
Ahead to my uni-years, I had moved to Australia not knowing anyone here. I’d re-invented myself to a healthier version of the former and had lost 32kg’s. I’d become more confident and made the right friends who encouraged me and my creativity.
I started journaling but not just day-to-day happenings. I wanted to write it for my 40-year-old self to look back and remember where my head was at. So I took great interest and time documenting each year and how occurrences made me feel. It was a cathartic exercise and I still find great pleasure diving into my own personal history and seeing the journey of development in adolescence.
I sang in a band in high school and we performed covers. We were so unorganised and I think we all knew we’d never go anywhere, but despite I started trying to write songs and poems infrequently and when the inspiration struck. Admittedly, back then the inspiration struck usually surrounded by the affections of a young lady and the resulting rejection. Much of my early writing was anger and sadness.
I’m glad for it. Now I love writing poetry which really found it’s swing around 2013 when my wife and I were working overseas in India / Nepal / Bangladesh. We were doing charity work; my wife doing the project-based activities working with communities and myself documenting the work in photos (I’ve worked as a photographer on and off for 10 years now) and writing. The poetry was all around me, and when I allowed it, it inspired some unstructured jotting down of my observations.
It’s always been music, nature and human interaction that’s inspired my writing. From when I wake to when I sleep there is almost always music playing. I recall the bus trips in Bangladesh watching first-hand the escalating tension of the locals when in 2012 Islam was jabbed at in media from the United States which sparked backlash globally. I recall listening to music and watching the throng of humanity as we drove through a nation teeming with an immense population density. The music – Talvin Singh – was the perfect soundtrack to process and digest it all.
In 2014 I had the opportunity to plan my first spoken word event after moving back to Australia. I became a father and we were re-settling back into Western living. We so desperately wanted to maintain the minimalist lifestyle we got used to abroad and continue our social justice impact here; the idealism was strong. With the charity, we worked for we planned a series of events – dubbed ‘Poetic Justice’ – where I went and spoke at schools, worked with school teachers and students to come up with topics of social justice, write pieces of poetry and perform them at a central event. The central event had invited guest poets to come along to inspire the students and it was a mutually beneficial event which fed into the young minds we interacted with.
It was also the first stage I took with my poetry. Looking back I did a lot better than I thought I would but it was also where I peaked. I’ve not performed basically since 2015 after the 2nd year of running the event, but I’ve not stopped writing. The poetry for me lives on my phone, and now on Instagram and Medium. I’d be interested in getting back into performance poetry, but at this stage, I’m looking to just unload my mind in a way that allows for introspection and allows me to continue to learn more about myself.
Nothing professional as such, but from a real place nonetheless.