What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Recurring debates on important poetry topics.
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Frank Daniel

Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Frank Daniel » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:27 am

Two poems from my first book, 'Bush Yarns and Poetry' (1995) have been used almost annually by the Canowindra Primary and High Schools since 1997. One, 'Faraway Dreaming' being part of school concerts. I wrote it while wheat carting at Wandoan Q. in 1979.
© Frank Daniel (at Wandoan Q.) 1979

Last night as I lay sleeping I dreamed of far away
Remembering in my slumber old friends at work and play.
I dreamt I heard sweet music as it filtered through the trees,
Such perfect notes afloating on a lucerne scented breeze.
I heard a band of children from the old Canowindra school
Playing music soft in harmony like ripples on a pool.
I saw their leader take his wand, with magic gestures deft
He drew his urchins into tune, as each one played his best.
And down along Belubula cool water wends its way,
The she-oak and the willow blend in soft idyllic sway.
I saw a golden sunset silhouette the Nangar Range
As day came slowly to an end and darkness filled the plains.
The day turned softly into night, the music ceased to play,
And I woke in dull surroundings from my dreams of faraway.
Yes, my dreams are of Canowindra and that valley far away,
Where lucerne scented breezes fill the air at break of day:
It’s a longing for a home place; it’s somewhere to settle down,
It’s a tugging on my heart strings, it’s my old Canowindra town!

[re-written for the Marti’s Canowindra Balloon Fiesta Album 1996.
Recorded at Nash Chambers Studio, Avoca Beach 1996]

I have had requests from youngsters for permission to recite 'I'm the Man' and 'Aunt Martha' plus a few others.
In 1997 I conducted a workshop for juniors at the National Folk Festival, Canberra. It went quite well, but the idea wasn't kindled enough to be carried on.

My earliest days of poetry were Paterson and Lawson. (Thanks Dad) but one fellow that I relished was a bloke named John Ashe whose songs were recorded by Chad Morgan.
The Boba Woba Wedding. [John Ashe] In A Cemetery. [John Ashe] The Duckinwilla Dance. [Chad Morgan]
These simple songs were easy to follow and all quite humorous - topical and encouraging to me as a kid.
This is what we need for todays kids, the only trouble is that I am not one of today's kids.

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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by keats » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:16 pm

I agree that the material is around. Have never doubted that, we have some wonderful children's writers, and some wonderful works being produced by children themselves. What concerns me is where are our young performers? Especially now that the State and National Comps are coming to a standstill and some on the verge of extinction, where are our next generation of performers going to come from? They can keep publishing works in a restricted market, but the people they need to get to are at the festivals, where hundreds, sometimes thousands of people turn up to see and hear the poets.

This was where I was coming from. I write kids poetry as well and perform and do school workshops, but rarely see any of those kids turning up to perform. It's a bit of a worry for the future. A few years back we had a heap of kids getting up to perform. As I say, it's a worry for the future.


Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by warooa » Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:56 am

Geez, Neil . . . my kids put on a performance at least once a day at meal time . . sometimes bathtime as well. Just have to get'em to do it in rhyme :roll:


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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Vic Jefferies » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:40 am

A great poem Frank. Perhaps it might be re-posted under members poetry?

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Peter Mace
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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Peter Mace » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:36 am

Just back from my first "Oracles of the Bush" where the School childrens concert drew around thirty contestants. It takes organisation from the organisers and the schools, but can be done.
In hindsight a good idea would have been to invite any of the children to hang around after the comp.for a lighthearted workshop to help them out with confidence and performance skills. The better they get at it the more they will want to have a go.
One satisfying point was the comp. judged by myself and Marco had arounrd 20% original work.

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Glenny Palmer
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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Glenny Palmer » Mon May 16, 2011 3:12 am

G’day All,
I’m actually at home for once…for a wee while, & have only now seen this thread.
I must say I so admire your passion & commitment Neil. I’ve been somewhat ‘off the scene’ in general for a while now, due to temporary circumstances, but I also feel very strongly about our youth. When I was in ‘full swing’ I workshopped every class in an outback school over a 4 day period.... & then did all the Catholics in one day. (Joe will understand that.) The teenagers are the toughest, but I get ‘em in the end.

I am wondering what your format is? I’d be very interested to know. Mine is highly interactive, & I believe, requires a degree of applied psychology to get/keep the blighters engaged. Someone said ‘fun’ was the answer & I totally agree. Also, the venue for this type of education is critical. To even attempt workshopping at a festival with mega attractions/distractions is futile. My thinking is that the kids will respond in their classroom (or a library etc where learning is the norm) because they’d much rather suffer some old chook gabbling on, than (gasp) mathematics, so they are at least half interested.

I approach the schools to view my programme as developing self esteem in the children as a first, & enhancing interest in literature as a close second. Firstly, with the older kids, I speak about how uncool it all was when I was their age….back last century….that no one ever listened to me, etc etc. I then explain how very important it is to express your thoughts/feelings, & the downside of not doing so, & that writing in any form gets those yuk feelings out. Then I make a goose out of myself by performing a poem re a swaggie & a ghost, complete with the cork hat etc. They tolerate that….& then…. :twisted: I haul 2 of them up to act out that swaggie poem (with me prompting, whispering the words of their part). I choose a girl for the swaggie, & a boy (usually the school bully) for the ghost. I give them hell…. telling the girl she’ll now have nits from my hat, & swivelling the boy’s head around at certain points, ad libbing on their ‘performance.' This cracks the rest of them up….& we’re away!! To cut a long/er story short, I have them all writing….& presenting….by lesson’s end. (approx 2.5 to 3 hours)

The way I got them into their local festival was to set up the written comp at the lesson, while they were enthused. Every child entering would get at least an encouragement award, with all parents notified of that upcoming presentation at the festival. Sadly, only a percentage of parents see fit to attend, but those who did were enough, & brought along Aunty Gladys & Grandma etc etc to see just who had come in the top 3, & to watch all their little darlings present their poems. A number of kids attend unsupported. They entered the written comp largely because it was the school buzz , & they had already experienced being required to present in front of their teachers & peers at my lesson. Best results were where more than one class & one school had been ‘workshopped’. Handled properly, this type of interaction with kids in class achieves remarkable results in opening up their minds, & enthusiasm, & belief in themselves, & what they can actually achieve. The best feedback I ever heard was ‘That woman changed my son’s life.’ (I can die happy from that.)

Sorry this is so long. I hope it helps. Actually….now that I think of it…would it be an idea to launch a workshop for workshop presenters? To get more living poets interested/trained in attacking the schools? (Remember, that we had dead poets shoved down our throats in our day.)

Alright. Enough already.
The purpose of my life is to serve as a warning to others.

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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Zondrae » Mon May 16, 2011 7:32 am

G'day Glenny,

What a bonza idea. I have approached my local schools and had negative response. But I believe it may have been my timid method of approach. I will be the first to admit I need training. Adult workshops I can handle because they come along wanting to find out something new or to have their poem/s looked at or heard. Wereas to go into schools is, and should be, a specialist field,
Zondrae King
a woman of words

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Maureen K Clifford
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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Mon May 16, 2011 1:37 pm

Maybe the solution is as simple as perhaps asking the kids what works for them. Maybe Clancy set to music and read with something like this going on in the foreground could work???? I don't know but maybe it would appeal to the younger ones...some of these kids are pretty innovative at doing what they do.

This was the Eurovision contest for 2011.

I doubt an oldie came up with the idea of break dancing to Bach but someone did and these kids have embraced the concept with enthusiasm. They are so good and even the staunchest lover of classical music would be hard pressed to not enjoy the talent these kids display. The young lass towards the end of the clip appears to have had some classical ballet training. Sure it breaks all the rules but the thing is it works and the kids are involved
Check this out.



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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Heather » Mon May 16, 2011 2:36 pm

Their agility, strength and talent is amazing Maureen. Thanks for sharing it. Interesting point because I can watch this quite happily to Bach but not to the normal music it is danced to. The opposite must also apply. You just have to see Greg North perform his version of Clancy of the Overflow to see how it gets audiences in.

Heather :)

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Dave Smith
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Re: What's Happening To Our Young Poets?

Post by Dave Smith » Mon May 16, 2011 8:56 pm

What about the one handed handstand at the start, I was never that fit even when I was fit.

TTFN 8-)
I Keep Trying

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