The Monthly interviews Australian poet, Peter Ramm – Part 1 – Developing a love of literature and poetry

Were you always attracted to writing?

I’m a teacher, I teach English and History. I have always loved both disciplines. I can remember when I was very young trying to write my first novel; it was an adventure novel with a bit of mystery. I always enjoyed the idea of a good story.

My mum was an English teacher and she did a lot of reading with me, and I think I was about 10 or 11 when I tried to write that novel and I got about 1000 words in and found it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I always loved language though. That attracted me to literature.

How did you make your way to poetry?

I played a lot of sport in High School, I wanted to be a PE teacher and just play sport all the time, but as I said I also loved language, and I gravitated towards poetry because of the way the language was used, especially the kind of poetry where the underlying ideas had to be unpacked.

I loved the kind of poetry which needed constant rereading in order to get to the core of what the poet was intending. I didn’t write much myself but I enjoyed reading and the work involved in understanding poetry. I found analysing poetry very rewarding.

Mark Tredinnick

I came from a conservative Christian background and we read from the King James Bible all the time. A well known poet, Mark Tredinnick, says that even if you are not religious, reading from the King James bible is really useful because it was written by poets.

Was there anything else which impressed you?

I loved the richness of Shakespeare and Shakespearean language. I know a lot of High School students don’t but I really liked that style and method of writing; I always thought there was plenty to learn from the works of Shakespeare.

Did you get support either at home or at school?

There was certainly support at home; my parents were both teachers and so they encouraged me academically from an early age. They built in study structures and a love of learning.

I had a couple of teachers who encouraged and supported me. I had a very good English teacher in Year 10, Ken Sutcliffe. I think he was the first person who thought I would be able to write well and that meant I was well directed regarding how to write coherently, what my sentence structure should be, things like that. He was very good at imparting the nuts and bolts of language and the skills needed to write essays well.


My Ancient History teacher, John McLellan, was very supportive. I did Extension History with him and he had just completed his doctorate from Macquarie University.

It was wonderful to work with someone why was so intellectually impressive and the course was great in that you had to do your own research, you had to go the University library and work on your own research project.

I felt that it was at that point when I became interested in a real process of deep research—proper academic study, and that meant working hard on what it was you were investigating.

And from there what happens?

It was probably at University where I returned to my love of Literature. I did a double major in English Literature and History at the University of Wollongong and I found myself reading a lot of American Poetry like Emily Dickenson or Walt Whitman.

Emily Dickinson

I never knew about poets like Walt Whitman until I went to university and so I found myself pouring into his work and others, becoming inspired by their writing.

So, that love of literature in general and poetry was always there, and while it wasn’t always at the forefront, it was certainly within me and I’ve found has been what I’ve come back to.

International Page and Stage – Writers and Poets from the Southern Hemisphere – Peter Ramm – The reading starts at 18 minutes

To see more of Peter Ramm’s work go to the following link –


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