The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Discussion of any bush poetry topic.
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Shelley
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Shelley » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:56 pm

John Derum certainly has been a champion of the work of CJ Dennis. We had the chance to chat with him at the 2015 Toolangi Festival, and to see him in the character of “Den” in an interactive garden tableau, with Jim Haynes as Henry Lawson, Geoffrey Graham as Banjo Paterson and a Ruth Aldridge as Dorothea MacKellar. It was great!
Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines
http://www.shelleyhansen.com

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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Gary Harding
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Gary Harding » Fri Nov 01, 2019 6:46 am

Yes Shelley, what a great bloke and talent John is! I think the board when it is displayed permanently on a wall will give a measure of continuing fame. Deservedly so.

........................

An interesting item of many in the Exhibition is The Melbourne Bread and Cheese Club display. It is not easy trying to make what may be a dry subject entertaining for the public, but these fun guys help by their antics and literary inspirations.

A group of twelve men formed the Club in 1938 with the aim of furthering the interests of mateship, art and literature... while enjoying their own environment of good fellowship.
Membership steadily increased and boasted such accomplished balladists as Edward Harrington, Jim Grahame and Thomas V Tierney... all favourites of mine. Although it was a men-only club, ladies were permitted to publish work in the club's monthly journal Bohemia.

The Club was headed by a highly respected, book collector by the name of J K "Jack" Moir (who had the grandiose title The Knight Grand Cheese). Members referred to each other with the form of address of Fellow, under threat of being fined.

An attached moving poem of Edward's was published in my December 1939 issue of Bohemia and I have scanned it.
It is entitled The Derelicts and appeared later in The Kerrigan Boys and Other Australian Verses. Click on it to view.

Also in this same Bohemia edition is a poem by Jim Grahame entitled Forgotten Autograph. It is only in the last verse that Jim hints at whom he is addressing his poem.

As deft and light pale fingers fly
O'er these lines set in Braille
Aye! The brave woman's heart of you
Will never let you fail.


It is Tilly Aston of course, the first and perhaps only blind bush poet!

Tilly's lovely display is actually completed and boxed up. I will tell her remarkable story another time...

I have a number of copies of Bohemia including the first one and also their anniversary issue. They are fairly scarce.

Included in this Bread and Cheese Club display is an imitation bread roll, cheese and a glass of beer!... all to add atmosphere and liven it up!
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Gary Harding
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Gary Harding » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:15 am

I am continuing to put together material for a niche display that will occupy a room of its own in the Exhibition.

Bullocks, Bullockies and Ballads

Here is some collector's bullocky gear that I have managed to obtain. It is from Stanthorpe, Qld. (a story in itself)

The heavy bullock yoke has all the many nicks and scratches of age and use. A glowing patina that exudes character and atmosphere. It is reputed to be from the last bullock team to work the Stanthorpe area. I think this suggests a late 1880's to early 1900's manufacture of the yoke.
It is very heavy and there is a temptation to stain it to bring it up, but I tend to favour leaving it in original condition.

These yokes were connected by either a central chain or a specialised linked bar like this one (also heavy!). According to my Bullock Drivers Handbook, it was a matter of personal choice, or situation, which one to use. The linked bar supposedly did not get tangled in the scrub as much as chain.

The heavy cast iron kettle also came with this old bullocky equipment... perhaps part of that old bullocky's gear.
Included is a large 1.8m crosscut saw (with a few teeth missing for authenticity).

Henry Lawson loved the bullockies and C J Dennis also got up close to timber-getting, especially in his book Jim Of The Hills, but horse teams were used there. It will all be included... along with other material and audio-video enhancements that I have gathered.
Step into this display and you will feel that you ARE a bullocky.. right there with them, grasping the whip... not just an observer. Sense the sounds and smells of the bush.

It will transport visitors to a world celebrated and romanticised by the bush poets. It features these great balladists... the skilled use of words to capture events and times.
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Shelley
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Shelley » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:16 pm

Your collection is certainly growing, Gary. This is a fascinating journey!
Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines
http://www.shelleyhansen.com

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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Gary Harding
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Gary Harding » Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:20 am

Thanks Shelley,

Gathering material goes hand in hand with an excellent presentation, something that Karen specialises in..
You should see what we have planned for John O'Brien!!! His basic display has been completed, but this extra concept is incredible and uses some of the latest technology tools. :)

I work to obtain sufficient material to adequately present the (good) old bush poets in a permanent exhibition... with a bit on limited and selective "cultural topics" as an add-on.

These bush balladists will then no longer be condemned to the anonymity of silent shelves or be buried by the unfortunate re-engineering of Australian society.

The draft floor plan of the proposed building is approaching completion. The structure will then be designed around that.

1. Although it has a dull cover, this book entitled The Bread and Cheese Book (1939) contains verses from some well known rhyming B&C poets.

It is the tentative first publication by the club (who eventually issued around 40 books) .... only 100 copies of it were produced. It is exceptionally rare, with likely only a few copies outside of libraries surviving. It is in excellent condition.

2. The Chronicles of the Bread and Cheese Club (1943). One of two copies. A hardcover book outlining the history of the Club, its philosophy and a profile of all the members of the time. This copy was owned by Fellow Gerard A. Dreyfus.

Those blokes were very serious about their poetry!!!

I was remiss in not saying that I think your poem Song of the Queenslander is one of your best, if not the very best, of your writing! Some of your couplets are really inspired. Your support, along with Maureen's encouragement too, is wonderful!
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Shelley
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Shelley » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:38 pm

Wow! You really are putting your heart and soul into this project!

Thank you so much for such an unexpected accolade for my "Song of the Queenslander" - I really do appreciate that. I suppose, living in Maryborough, it was one subject I really had to write about!

To return the compliment - for me it is your poem "The Old Bush Piano" that strikes the strongest chord. I suppose because I play piano myself, and I always think of the dear old instruments as having a heart and soul of their own (figuratively speaking). You have created the perfect word picture of just how it used to be!

Cheers
Shelley
Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines
http://www.shelleyhansen.com

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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Gary Harding
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Gary Harding » Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:48 am

Yes Shelley, it is a big task.

You can have the best designed, air-conditioned building in the world with ambience, expensive lighting and furnishings. Even add propaganda hype like "Isn't it wonderful that we are all Aussies together" on boards to impress many people! (and it all does!)

However.... the intelligent folk will invariably demand substance.... not art in disguise or slogans ... so sensitivity and care are needed.

Fortunately I have that substance in spades! :)

Bringing in (selective) "cultural" aspects to support Bush Poetry broadens its public appeal.
I keep a book containing our many great "ideas" that all need exploring.

There is an Honour Roll for the foyer where I intend to present all those who have contributed in real terms by way of goods donations or even big favours. Such things in these early stages are especially appreciated.

If this was the USA, partners would be lining up. Great enterprising national projects are supported and admired.. never envied, ignored or undermined. They truly care. Imagine a tourist facility mainly devoted to people who appear on the US currency.. like Australia's Paterson/Lawson do!
You do not have to scratch the surface of a Yank too far to find someone who loves their country with a genuine heartfelt passion!!! I have seen it....

I was in the big foyer of a huge classy hotel in Texas. (Aren't they all huge there). I was talking to the older lady playing the piano. She was doing background music and dozens of people of all sorts were standing or sitting around drinking and chatting. Then suddenly she started to play The Star Spangled Banner. Instantly everyone as far as you could see stopped what they were doing and stood up, their expressions changed, they put their hands on their hearts and all began singing their anthem together.

I was very affected by that... but hey this is Australia today, not the USA ... so we will just have to see I guess.

A long way to go, lots of tough battles still to be fought... but a long way travelled to get to this point too. Cheers!

btw : I have a big distrust of High-technology. Where it is sold into museums that I have seen, it has commonly failed miserably at big cost. Nothing looks worse than stuff that is not working. Anything that does use it, and it can be good, will have instant backup systems in place, and be done with care... simple plain screens are OK. A dicey area.

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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Gary Harding » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:12 am

As everyone knows, Banjo along with his assistant Christina, composed Waltzing Matilda at Dagworth station.

I thought that we would tell this Waltzing Matilda Story properly and in our own way ... and have done so.

Some of the interesting aspects of it, including material to come out of the late 1940's, has never before been gathered and presented.

It led us to correspond with the great Mr. Frank Ifield who supplied us with extra information and material. (I regard him as Mr. Waltzing Matilda...a long story). In return for that kindness, for our Cultural Centre we developed a display about Frank and his long career involvement with the song. Naturally it included a rare document that I was able to procure from overseas....

Anyway.... here for ABPA member interest is just one aspect (of the many facets) we have developed that relate to Waltzing Matilda.

Waltzing Matilda was composed using an autoharp.

The brother of a guy I used to work with happens to be the best zither/autoharp player in Australia.
An autoharp is a base-member of the zither instrument family.
A zither played by an expert is something else!!!

He exclusively put together a professional Waltzing Matilda video for me using a 5-chord zither. I asked that it feature his hands close up and his fingers plucking the strings. (His son is an audio-video tech). The result is WM as it would have sounded when played by Christina more than 120 years ago ... only rather better.

She would have been impressed.

It is in 4K high-resolution so is breathtaking on a very large screen, using quality speakers.
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Gary Harding » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:14 pm

This is our presentation of the moving poem Wheat, written by C J Dennis; one of the many poems by various poets that we have similarly highlighted.

It is both visual and tactile, with the intention that visitors will be encouraged to read and enjoy at least the first few lines.

It will be in a sloping position in a stand-alone floor cabinet with its own specialised lighting, emphasising the earthy colours and gold lace binding around the mini-sheaf of dried wheat.

"Sowin' things an' growin' things, an' watchin' of 'em grow;
That's the game" my father said, an' father ought to know.


What a wonderful poem!

I hope that we have managed to do it justice.
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Re: The Spoken Word in Bush Poetry

Post by Gary Harding » Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:03 am

For interest, I have revisited the early cuisine aspect of Australian Culture. (No good ballads around on this subject that I know of).
There does seem to be scope for a small interesting display, which is in keeping with the plan to have something to interest everyone in this Cultural Centre, even if its main theme is all the early bush poets.

1. From my collection... photo is of the small cookery book entitled Off The Beaten Track (1917). I like the cover. It is not exactly a colour Margaret Fulton special.. but it was how it was in those days. Some good basic recipes.

2. The famous English and Australian Cookery book 1864 (my copy is shown and it is a later reprint).

3. A small enlightening 1864 extract from this early book, dealing briefly with a culinary classic from the colonies. Roast wombat. Together with a small recommendation regarding the delights of sampling roast native porcupine on a frosty morning.

Might be tricky plucking the echidna? (Do not try this at home).

There is enough material available to give a snapshot of early food preparation using limited facilities.
Delightful.

... and later I will deal with old Australian Etiquette, a funny area..
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