Bush Poetry...

Bush poetry flourished upon colonisation of Australia and into the 1950's. Then for several decades it dimmed prior to returning with much celebration when the Australian Bush Poets Association was formed at Tamworth in 1994.
Whenever traditional poets are discussed, A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson and Henry Lawson stand supreme. However, C.J. Dennis who wrote over 4,000 poems, many for children, has been Australia's most prolific poet.

Victorian born Edward Harrington, often described as the last of the great Bush Balladists, and Edwin Greenslade Murphy who wrote under the pseudonym Dryblower, were brilliant exponents of the art of rhyming verse, yet sadly they are little known today.

Poets come from all walks of life. Father Patrick Joseph Hartigan who wrote under the pen name, John O'Brien, is famous for his poems Said Hanrahan, and Tangmalangaloo. Will Ogilive, a Scotsman, wrote many hundreds of poems while horse-breaking, droving and mustering during the twelve years he roamed the harsh Australian outback. The Riding of the Rebel, and The Last Muster are considered two of his best.

While Dorothea Mackellar will never be forgotten for her soul stirring My Country, Dame Mary Gilmore's patriotic poem No Foe shall Gather our Harvest, received commendation from General Douglas MacArthur during WW II.

How unfair to mention some, but not all, of the past great poets? Yes. But how difficult it is to draw a line.

Such is also the case with modern day, or contemporary poets and performers, as they are known. The calibre of these women and men can best be judged by viewing past results of the many major written and performance poetry competitions.
With state and Australian championships being a reliable indication.

Traditional or classical poetry is now defined as poetry having been written more than fifty years ago. Though these works remain as popular as ever, many current writers cleverly introduce humour into their poems.

There are more poets writing rhyming verse in Australia now, than at any other time in our nations history.

Sadly, few schools currently include bush poetry in their literature or performing arts curricula. Most VBPMA member groups and particularly the Man from Snowy River Festival (Corryong) actively engage school students.

No longer do poets stand rigidly at attention and recite by rote alone. Emphasis is on 'performance'. Facial expressions and body language are used to enhance delivery.

Audiences enjoy being entertained by a mix of performances, whether during competitions or the popular poets breakfasts - where anyone can 'walk up' and have a go - and also group gatherings.

Competitions, festivals and poets breakfasts are held all over Australia. There are many clubs or groups you can participate in and help keep this unique and historic art form alive.

Horse and saddle are not required. Come along and join the fun. You won't regret it.

For details on your closest VBPMA member group, go to Groups & Links page.