There are two things they say are the hardest to do and that is to work with children and animals. Well for the last five to six months a few dedicated adults from Townsville Bush Poetry Mates have been working with several children of varying ages – from grade four to eight – to appreciate Australian Bush Poetry. This I believe is our responsibility as Bush poets, to pass on to the next generation a love of this great craft and thus leave a legacy for the future.
If we fail to pass on this entrusted knowledge, then Bush poetry faces a certain death! Everyone loves a good story, especially kids. So this was not a huge challenge for us to present these kids with good entertainment until we also endeavoured to teach them the specifics of writing the stuff! I have seen many very well adjusted adults, (myself included) turn into an almost blubbering mess tearing their hair out trying to get the metre, rhythm and rhyme of Australian Bush Poetry consistent.
For several months the group struggled on and a few members decided that this was probably not the greatest thing they’d ever done. Then… Hey presto the penny dropped!
Maybe it had little to do with what we were doing but was the influence of that infamous red-headed bush poet Glenny Palmer. Glenny had presented a workshop for TBPMs and most of our young members had attended this workshop in the September school holidays.
I for one thought we had bitten off more than we could chew and thought ‘This ain’t gonna work’. I should have trusted my instincts as a teacher for as I have seen so often, all of a sudden the kids just get it. So after only a handful of monthly meetings the children, collaboratively and quite enthusiastically, wrote a short poem.
They were given the choice to write their own poem in its entirety or to add their own significant lines to a jointly constructed piece of work.
It may seem to some just a minor thing but to our little band of workers it was a great break –through.
So what will we do next year? Who knows? First we have to celebrate our success with a Christmas break-up under the rain trees at the Aitkenvale Library (fitting I think, as there are no coolabah trees in suburbia) with a party and of course the presentation of a poem from each child with the fitting topic of Christmas, Santa or The Holidays or of course all three. How quickly the mood changes when one works with children and what a delightful buzz one gets from the achievement of small milestones! Loving bush poetry, loving kids!
Townsville Bush Poetry Mates
WULGURU STATE SCHOOL WORKSHOP, AUGUST 2014
In August, Lyn Tarring and Kathie Priestley were invited back to Years 4 & 5 Classes again at Wulguru State School, having visited last year as well.
The children were delightful, and very eager to participate in performing and reading verse by our past and present Australian Poets.
Kathie and Lyn were in their element, making the children laugh at their antics, especially when they performed Keith McKendry’s poem, “Tomorrow”, which they perform as a duet.
A brief workshop was given on the genre of Bush Poetry, and the students showed their interest – asking and answering questions regarding Bush Poetry. They were also very enthusiastic when performing Banjo Paterson’s “The Bush Christening.”
An enjoyable morning was held by all – especially Lyn and Kathie!