Can bush poetry survive?

Recurring debates on important poetry topics.
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Neville Briggs
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Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Neville Briggs » Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:38 am

Hang in there Terry, we need gentlemen like you to balance the depredations of ruffians like... :lol: :lol:

Have a safe trip. What are you going to find, opals, sapphires, Gold ! maybe just some yellow belly ? Have a good time.
Last edited by Neville Briggs on Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Neville
" Prose is description, poetry is presence " Les Murray.

Neville Briggs
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Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Neville Briggs » Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:55 am

Who said anything about doctors. More like old retired cops from the wild west out Bourke way :roll: .
Neville
" Prose is description, poetry is presence " Les Murray.

manfredvijars

Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by manfredvijars » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:11 pm

Hi Manfred. I would very like this letter to go in the forum with ‘Dear David’ included.
I strongly feel that my opinion is a valid one, and would very much like to share it.



Dear David, 26th April 2012.
I’ve mulled over your email, and can see that while we highly respect each other’s passion for our art, we do not agree at all on our version of what it should entail.

I must stress that, in my poem published in the ABPA magazine, (April 2012), I did not cast slurs on the poetry in question, or the authors. I strongly stated that they are not the genre expected to be winners of highly desired Australian/Bush poetry awards. What I do strongly criticise is that the poems were sent to a Bush/Australian competition that strongly averse to promote Bush poetry, and that the judges let them go through.

‘Wastelands’ is a beautiful poem that has been expertly crafted and highly emotional. It masterfully expressed pain and distress and would have resonated in the heart of every reader. But it is NOT an Australian/Bush Poem. To go through all the poems of the same calibre that have won The Bronze Swagman in the past would be time consuming, but because they have not been as prevalent as they are becoming now, I believe that because we appreciated their craftsmanship, we overlooked the fact that they did not contain the Australian/Bush themes which the competition claims to promote.

I did not cast aspersions on the other two poems. I stated that they were well written and amusing, but did not deserve their positions in the Bronze Swagman as there were poems following more deserving of those awards. In any General competition (note: I do not use Contemporary – as Australian/Bush poetry can, of course be given that heading) they would have deserved the recognition they received...

Poetry about life in general, e.g. things that happen during our lifetimes, such as a loved one’s debilitating illness, our father’s fighting in wars, (where Australian is not mentioned or inferred) and daily problems – personal and mechanical, These themes certainly describe the heartaches and daily complexities that every nationality is familiar with. And this type of poetry is a genre which deserves to be recognised and awarded
in its own right. If we claim to be dedicated Australian/Bush poets we should vigorously resist its intrusion into ours.

To compare the quality of silent films to films today is, I believe, a good case for my side of this debate, not yours. Silent films had strict moral ethics that had to be obeyed. Inexorably the rot set in, slowly at first, by gradually relaxing those rules until today’s children are so inured to violence, explicit sex and language which is depicted in movies and music, and advertising that is easily available to them. That we have this material marked ‘Not suitable for children under 15’ is ridiculous as 15 year-olds are still children, and very impressionable ones at that. But because so few strongly and passionately protested, this insidious culture flourishes today.
There are primary and school children who are so indoctrinated by films like ‘Harry Potter’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, etc. and ‘The Hunger Games’ that they live in such a world of fantasy they can no longer function rationally in their classrooms or their homes. They are aggressive, violent and, at times, psychotic. In many schools they are so disruptive in class that teachers cannot control them or teach the children who want to learn. (A minority in most high school classrooms today). Teachers constantly come home bruised and scratched from being attacked by students, or from trying to break up vicious fights during the lunch and recess breaks, and are being subjected to slanderous (many sexual) complaints to the headmaster. (To make matters worse the parents of these children rush to the headmaster to defend their child/children and are just as obnoxious as their offspring). We must ask ourselves, if this is because we have been too complacent about the encroachment of violence and sex in our literature and media.

Recently, our Education Department discussed eliminating poetry (all genres) from the
high school curriculum altogether. Is this confirmation that their students are bored with the type of poetry they’ve been taught? If you speak to today’s Australian/Bush poets, I’ll guarantee that a high number of them would tell you that they thoroughly enjoyed, and still remember, poems they recited daily in class that were written by Paterson, Lawson, and many others. Wonderful, exciting, rhythmic and rhyming poems written in Australian vernacular and easily understood. If they were never given Australian History and Geography, I have no doubt their knowledge of their country would still be extensive because of this type of poetry. If not cluttered up by General poetry describing emotions and incidents, this could happen today. Maybe our new Australians would find out more of what their adopted country is all about if they learnt, in their schools, the poetry of yesterday’s and today’s masters of Australian/Bush poetry. Maybe they could share poetry – with the same theme – about where they came from. If we did this, maybe this country would be more cohesive than it is.

One must ask, that if we Australian/Bush Poets are complacent now, and do not protect our unique form of poetry, could our work become so infiltrated by unrelated genres that it takes on a completely new character and no longer exists in its PURE form?.

Yes, I do use the word PURE, and by that I am referring to poetry written about Australia
and everyone who is proud to be called Australian no matter where they were born. This includes poetry that specifically mentions Australians at war, our unique humour. about our flora and fauna, etc no matter whether it be urban, rural, inland or coastal. Uniquely and absolutely AUSTRALIAN.

You say that my poem about culling kangaroos could be about other countries that also cull their wildlife. But my poem is about KANGAROOS. That one word tells you what country I’m writing about. Kangaroo culling is being carried in Perth suburbs, and foxes are being culled annually on a golf course only two streets from my home and on the nearby river foreshore. Just out of Armadale (20 or 30 minutes from Perth), a huge feral pig was propped up in a sitting position by the side of the main road and was written up in our daily newspaper the following day.

To say that because culling of wildlife and feral animals is also carried out in other countries, and are also subjected to floods and bushfires, those themes do not particularly pertain to our country leaves me absolutely perplexed. Many poems, long ones, too, go from beginning to end without making any mention of Australia or Australians, but their content clearly denotes this country.

Isn’t it a defeatist attitude to say ‘we are banishing ourselves to the past’? Does revering ‘the old days’ and recording the present mean that we are doing this? Does the fact that Australia is evolving negate what our country has been through? Do we allow a form of poetry that records our past and current events to be decried and defiled by the infiltration of poems that are not what is expected to win an award in a prestigious competition that has always claimed to promote Bush poetry?

You state that because I grew up in the bush I have a great advantage over city poets and that because of this advantage ‘I am trying to exclude urban poets from the bush poetry scene’. Well, I spent 4 years in the bush, 3 or 4 years in a country town, and the rest of my school years in an Adelaide convent before coming to Western Australia. I have lived 20 minutes from Perth and about 10 minutes from Fremantle for over 60 years, so consider myself to be a dyed-in-the-wool urbanite.

To say that Bush poetry cannot stand on its own feet is balderdash. It will not stand on its own feet because poets who profess to be Australian/Bush poets don’t support it with the zeal it deserves and are encouraging general poetry to infiltrate it to such an extent it certainly will cease to exist as a genre in its own right.

Maybe we should make up our minds about what we want to call our sort of poetry. Australian or Bush. I prefer Australian/Bush as that leaves no doubt as to what we’re all about. General poetry should not be considered at all. And it should be clearly understood that Contemporary poetry covers both genres but is not explicit in the theme required.

Australian/Bush poetry states exactly what it is and what is required. That is that.

Sincerely.

Valerie Read.

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Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Bob Pacey » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:34 pm

I'm with you Marty the discussion can go on for ages and will rear it's head from time to time.



The competition judges whoever they may be make the decision as to what is acceptable and lets leave it at that i say !


Cheers Bob.
The purpose in life is to have fun.
After you grasp that everything else seems insignificant !!!

Leonie

Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Leonie » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:46 am

Ok, I have been trying to stay out of this discussion for the most part. I was just going to stick with my one short tongue in cheek reply poem but given that my poem ‘Voices’ was one of the two that started this whole thing and obviously still rankles pretty strongly with Valerie it’s starting (rightly or wrongly) to feel a little personal. Valerie goes to great lengths to point out that she didn’t cast aspersions on the two poems mentioned in her ABPA poem, and she did in fact say that they were well written, but she firmly stated that they didn’t deserve to be awarded – hello, what part of ‘didn’t deserve to be awarded’ is not casting aspersions.

I don’t know, maybe she is right. She says my poem should have been passed over because of its content. And that leads me to wonder if I am in fact a ‘bush’ poet. I am certainly not a ‘general’ poet. If I enter my poems in a general poetry competition they have no chance at all because the general poetry comps are more often than not won by free versers.

I don’t write free verse because I just happen to prefer rhyme and metre. I write about my life and the things I see around me on a day to day basis. I am Australian born and bred so feel I am writing about the Australian way of life, it’s certainly my way of life. Some of my poems make mention of Australia or have some sort of iconic Australian reference in there but I fear the vast majority (which often have been inspired by real events) could still be about life anywhere in the world. I live in the city and as city dwellers we aren’t that much different to any other Western Country. So I guess what it comes down to is that word ‘bush’.

When I first started writing poetry again after a long hiatus I didn’t really think of myself as a bush poet to be honest. I didn’t really think of myself as anything in particular, just someone who likes to write in rhyme and with some sort of structure. Then one day I was listening to the radio and heard Rupert McCall reciting his poetry. The radio announcers referred to him as a bush poet, and for the first time I felt as though I had found a niche that I fitted into. Now I am questioning that again. I’m not quite sure where I fit in, but that’s ok, we all dance to our own drum, and to be fair I was beginning to question my ‘credentials’ as a bush poet before Valerie wrote her poem. It just came as a bit of a shock that I might not be the only one doing the questioning.

I am left wondering about competitions now too. Is Valerie a judge? If so it’s pretty clear that I wouldn’t have picked up a HC too often in any comp she happened to be judging, and that leads me to wonder if there are other judges who feel the same way. I have a reasonably thick fistful of HC’s and I would think most of them (with only one or two exceptions) could be viewed the same way as ‘Voices’ has been by Valerie, which leads me to wonder if I am just wasting my entry fees. I know there is more to poetry than competitions but I keep on entering in the hope of one day picking up a major prize but now I am wondering if I am just wasting my time.

Oh well, it's not the end of the world, and the argument will go on for ever no doubt, but comments like those made by Valerie don't help to make those of us who are sort of on the fringe of bush poetry feel at home and I would hazard a guess they wouldn't encourage new converts to bush poetry either.

Leonie

Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Leonie » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:25 am

Thanks muchly Marty. Someone who shall remain nameless told me I should keep on entering just to 'p**s 'em off'.
Sounded like good advice at the time. 8-) :D

I might post the poem in users so everyone can see what all the fuss is about, after all it's been published now, much to Valerie's disgust. :lol:

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Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:51 am

Hey Leonie - totally agree with Marty - and the other bit :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: You are a great poet don't doubt yourself for a minute you hear me - I will have to come over and give you a good slapping :roll:

You do The Switch proud and we're all pretty bushy out here
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -
http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/


I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

Leonie

Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Leonie » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:30 pm

Ha ha, thanks Maureen. It's pretty hard to think of myself as being even semi-rural when I'm smack in the middle of a housing estate, but I know what you mean, you only have to drive a few minutes to be in the country around here, depending of course in which direction you are driving. :? :D With my sense of direction it's a lucky dip.

Everyone on here was supportive when this first raised it's head and I am thankful for that (thanks to you all) but for some reason Valerie appears to not want to let it go. She is entitled to her opinion and is obviously passionate about bush poetry but in the circumstances I thought maybe it was time I chucked in my two cents worth as well. Sometimes we have to think about how our comments might affect other people. A newbie might be turned off the whole idea of bush poetry by what is starting to come across as a bit of a rant. The comment about school kids beating up on teachers is a bit of a long bow. I hardly think my silly little poem will lead to mass murder. Maybe I murdered a metre or two but hey that's what I do best. :lol: :lol:

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Stephen Whiteside
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Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:03 pm

I can imagine it's difficult when you are mentioned personally, Leonie, but I would try not to let it worry you too much. After all, it's only one person's opinion - which she is quite entitled to, of course. The fact that you are doing so well in competitions tells you something. Most people would appear to be very happy with what you are writing. I find myself in very much the same boat as you - I'm a rhyming poet, not necessarily a bush poet. I tend to hang out with the bush poets because there is no such thing as a 'rhyming poets' association' - apart from the fact that they're all such nice people, of course! But I would imagine that there are many poets in the same boat as you and me - David Campbell, obviously, for one. I assume free versers are allowed to write about shearers and drovers, so why can't 'bush poets' write about latte and chardonnay?
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer
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Neville Briggs
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Re: Can bush poetry survive?

Post by Neville Briggs » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:02 pm

I tried to keep out also Leonie, but..oh dear. :roll:

I don't think that the recent letter is useful for a poetry discussion because it is not about poetry, it is about control and conformity.


So let's have some useful discussions about poetry. I'm all for that :mrgreen:
Neville
" Prose is description, poetry is presence " Les Murray.

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