John Manifold

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Stephen Whiteside
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John Manifold

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:30 am

The most recent Tuesday club night meeting of the Victorian Folk Music Club was held on the night of the Melbourne Cup public holiday, so we were all asked to perform horse-related pieces.

I normally turn to "A Post Cup Tale" by C. J. Dennis in situations like these, but I knew Jim Smith would be reciting it from memory and I would only be reading it, so I deferred to him, and looked for something else. In the end, I went for "Incognito" by John Manifold.

Manifold is an interesting case. He was writing fifty years later than Paterson, Lawson, et al., but wrote in rhyme and metre - much against the fashion of the day. Curiously, he was regarded as a part of the literary mainstream in spite of this, and was regarded as one of Australia's premier poets. His writing is not as polished as Paterson or Dennis - both rhyme and metre are a bit rough - and his humour is often very black. (I wonder if that is why the literati loved him so much.)

Having said all that, much of his poetry became very popular - although I suspect it has fallen away in recent years. His is not a name you hear much nowadays.

"Incognito" is a very clever and entertaining poem, though, as are many of his others.
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer

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