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So! What's this Bush Poetry Stuff?
The art of bush poetry and yarn spinning is all about entertaining. It is about telling a story and delivering the lines with just the right amount of humour, passion or feeling and sometimes, even with a touch of the theatrical to add to the spectacle - but mostly, it is just about getting up and having a go.
Bush poetry and the telling
of quirky yarns and tall tales could almost be considered an Australian
national trait. Since the early days of European settlement, youngsters across
this great country have sat on their grandparent's knees and listened in awe as
yarns were spun and poems were recited about local historic events and topics
These lines of rhymes and interesting stories, some funny, some sad and some just downright clever, have managed to capture the essence of Australia and its diverse population.
Association members find that inspiration for poems and stories often comes simply from experiencing everyday life - it could be the pleasure you get from attending a happy family gathering, or a personal tragedy may strike a chord with you, or you may be moved by the stunning beauty of a rural sunset, a snow-laden gum tree or even the rare sight of watching draught horses working in a dusty paddock.
The WA Bush Poets and Yarn Spinners Association's aim is simply to stimulate a continuing enthusiasm and interest in the unique written and performing art of Bush Poetry and Yarn Spinning.
The term "Bush Poetry" more reflects the origin of the art form rather than the actuality. Bush Poetry, or more correctly "Australian Rhyming Poetry" covers far more than rural topics. Among its many facets you will also come across poems dealing with contemporary and political issues, day to day living, relationships, nature, and almost any other topic you can think of. The over-riding feature of all of them is that they have an Australian theme (this includes universal subjects) and MUST have very good and consistent rhyme and rhythm.
The term "Bush
Poetry" stems from the fact that in our early colonial times, many people,
in particular those living and working in rural areas (and this was a
significant percentage of the population) were unable to read and write and
many of the stories of the times, both true and fanciful were put into rhyming
verse (and sometimes song) so as to make them both relatively easy to remember
and to relate to others. Many of the poems were topical and related to
political, industrial and social events which were occurring at the time.
Many of these poems and songs have now disappeared into obscurity, whilst
others have lost their original political or social significance, probably the
most famous of these being our National Song "Waltzing
Matilda". Whilst almost every Australian can sing the song, few know
of its socio-political origins.
The actual term "Bush Poetry" is believed to have originated during the 1930s during which time trends in popular poetry (and other art forms) were for the more unstructured styles. Some poets were still writing in the style of the old Masters of the 1890 - 1920s era and in order to differentiate these from the more modern poets (whose work largely lacked consistent Rhyme and Rhythm) the "Bush Poetry" label was applied - It was appropriate at the time as the vast majority of the subject of these poems was about living in a past era when more people lived and worked in the bush than in the cities and major towns.
These days, the term has become synonymous with the style of poetry of the "Masters of the Past" irrespective of the subject matter and when the poetry was written. People from all walks of life and of all ages have once again come to appreciate the work of the "Bush Poets" and growing audiences around Australia are enjoying this great mixture of literary and performing art.
During the latter 19th and early 20th Centuries, there were many poets who's work has become a major part of our rich cultural history. Two names, (A.B. (Banjo) Paterson and Henry Lawson) stand out from the others, mainly due to the quantity of poetry that they produced. While other poets were less prolific, their work was just as significant. There were also many poets, whose names, in their time, were household words but whose work has largely been forgotten. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the Editor of the Bulletin wrote in praise of the Poets of Western Australia, who, at that time were producing far more than almost all of the other poets across Australia - and yet in the twenty first century, they have become the Forgotten Poets. - I have attempted to rectify this omission by including a considerable amount of their work in these pages. (See Past Poets)
One major influence in Australian poetic history was the Sydney Weekly newspaper, "The Bulletin". in 1889, its then editor and principal owner, Mr. J Archibald (the person after whom the "Archibald Prize" for portraits, is named) made a decision to open his pages to stories and poetic contributions from members of the public. This decision was to have far reaching consequences, for it inspired many poets whose work would otherwise have never been published. It also influenced other newspapers of the times to open their pages to "non-professional" writers.
After World War 1, due to various social influences, rhyming poetry gradually declined in its popularity. It was considered by some to be a "lesser form" of the literary arts. Literary commentators and academics tended to dismiss poets working in this genre as "balladeers" and "popularists" rather than "true poets". These attitudes persisted and still exist today in some circles. The "common man" however, continued to read and enjoy the works of the rhyming poets, for they told a story, or painted a word picture that needed little interpretation.
In the latter part of the 20th century, rhyming poetry, once again, increased in popularity, particularly among older members of the population. In recent years there has been an upsurge of people once again finding enjoyment and fulfilment in performing and writing this style of poetry. Throughout Australia, there are now many organisations whose aim, like that of the WA Bush Poets, is to foster community interest for people of all ages in this aspect of our culture. As part of this, there are now many competitions at all levels in which both writers and performers pit their skills and talents against each other for the honour of becoming their District, State or National Champion. Competitions generally cater for both the writer and performer of contemporary poetry, both serious and humorous as well as retaining a significant element of the "art" of spinning a good yarn as well as performing the traditional or classic Australian rhyming verse from earlier times.
As well as organised Bush Poetry events, travellers in our vast land often find themselves being part of an audience for impromptu performances at such places as caravan parks, bush camps, country races and festivals, local fundraising event and any other place where local or travelling poets and yarn spinners find themselves, for most Bush Poets are only too willing to recite their poems and tell their stories to any available appreciative audience.
Miscellaneous info: - Beware Frauds and Foul Mouths - members listed on our "Poets" page or recommended by our organisation are all performers of high standard and integrity, their poetry is generally suitable for all, however, please be aware that some Bush Poetry, including that of an earlier time does contain some mild coarse language and reference to bodily functions and possibly "inappropriate" innuendos. Should you be employing a poet and have any concerns regarding this issue, please discuss it with the performer prior to the performance.
While there are many Bush poets of high standard who are not members of our organisation, unfortunately, there are also a very few individuals calling themselves Bush Poets who do not have either the standard of performance or ethics that our organisation considers suitable. If in doubt, please contact a committee person who will endeavour to determine the suitability of unlisted people.
Membership and Contact Information
Membership is $15 per annum for an individual or $20 for a couple / family. Membership includes a monthly newsletter, "The Bully Tin", reduced entry fee to our monthly muster and to some other events. Membership also provides performing and writing members with the opportunity to include their profile, (including for sale products) on this website and to be promoted should enquiries come from the public. Members also are able to put samples of their poems on this website and so inform the public of their style of verse.
Members also have the opportunity (at a small fee) to have their individual webpage attached to this site. The WA Bush Poets webmaster can organise a simple personal website for members at no cost, however should more complex webpages be required you will need to arrange to have them created / managed by a competent designer.
Members with existing independent websites will have a link to their website included in their profile on the "Performance Poets" page
Note - There is a $3 (Annual) Handling Fee for having the Bullytin delivered via Australia Post
For further information about becoming a member of the WA Bush Poets and Yarn Spinners Association or for further details on upcoming meetings or competitions please contact an executive of the Assn:
To apply for membership,
download the membership form, complete the details and submit it, with your
subscription to the treasurer, alternatively,
membership forms are available at monthly musters.
Membership year commences in July, some pro-rata reductions may apply for joining part way through the year - please enquire before submitting new membership payments
President (Bill Gordon)
Vice President (Peter Nettleton)
sending Membership dues and other monies, please write to:
Send mail to email@example.com
with questions or comments about this website
Copyright 2004-16 WA BUSH POETS AND YARN SPINNERS INC.
Original website design by Lyn Mitchell, Modifications and maintenance since 2006 by Brian Langley.
Photography by Roy Duperouzel and Lyn Mitchell.
These Pages have PURPOSELY been left simple without distracting pop-ups, obscure menus, and extraneous information -
They have also been coloured suitable for viewing by people suffering Irlen's Syndrome, which is a visual discrimination problem
which is sometimes confused with dyslexia and with learning difficulties.
page's main contents last modified on Sept 10, 2010
minor amendments - ongoing