For me Bush Poetry is an integral part of the Australian landscape. It’s as important as the Simpson Desert or the Great Barrier Reef, as Aussie as a game of Two-Up on Anzac Day, and as colloquial as ‘g’day’ or ‘she’ll be right’. I’ve never been brave enough to write a bush poem, but I have nothing but admiration for those who do. My guest today, Dave Delaney, writes wonderful bush poetry and yesterday won the 2011 Open Poetry Award run by the Reef Writers & Port Douglas Gazette.
Dave, congratulations on your recent win as well as your new release. You must be delighted on both counts. Being published in America is something of a coup for an Australian Bush Poet.
Yes, I like to think so. Many bush poets have had poems published in a few different American magazines especially the American Cowboy magazine, but I’m not sure how many other bush poets have had their books published in America.
Tell us about your latest book and what inspired it.
I met Steven at ASA Publishing Company in 2007 when I entered their poetry competition. We seemed to ‘hit it off’ together have since become very good friends. In mid 2008 he suggested I publish a compilation with ASA. It took me a while to ‘warm’ to the idea, but I’m glad I did. I’m so proud of ‘OUT OF AUSTRALIA’ – 200 plus pages, 100 of my poems, plus quite a number with ‘Aussie’ photos for the world to read and enjoy.
It looks beautiful, Dave. You should be very proud of it.
When did you start writing?
I didn’t put pen to paper until late 2007. I had some quiet ‘me’ time where I was working and my thoughts kept going back to the time when I was a long-distance truck-driver. I particularly remembered a trip I did to western Queensland and thought I should jot it down. As I was writing the lines I subconsciously kept ending in rhyme. I had never written anything before except in primary school – the usual short essays. What makes my achievements more remarkable is the fact I had the schooling equivalent to about a 14 year old and when I did make it to grade 8, I stayed approximately 3 months then left to join the workforce. Because of that I do I have to ask someone to punctuate my writing for me – I’m hopeless at it. (Not bad for a bloke who only made it to Grade 8, Dave 🙂 )
What made you choose Bush Poetry as your medium?
I believe bush poetry chose me. I have always enjoyed reading bush poetry, especially in my younger days. My Grandfather and Uncle had books and I would sneak away to read the likes of Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, Henry Kendall, Barcroft Henry Boake and many more great Aussie poets.
Some of my favourite Australian poets are on that list too! Tell us a bit about Australia Bush Poetry. What sets it apart from other forms of poetry? Are there rules that help define it?
I think Australian bush poetry has its own distinct way of weaving its way into Aussie hearts via the story behind the poem and the visions the poem creates. I don’t care how much someone says they don’t like bush poetry, I bet they could recite some lines from a famous bush poem. As far as rules go according to the Australian Bush Poetry Association -‘Bush poems have consistent metre and are rhymed poetry about Australia, Australians and/or the Australian way of life.’
Are there particular topics that lend themselves to Bush Poetry?
Here is where some confusion lies. Some think bush poetry has to be about the bush or drovers and cattle or horses etc. But there are no particular topics. One can write about the Barrier reef or long white beaches, so long as it is metred, rhyming poetry about Australia, Aussies or our great way of life.
That sounds easy, Dave but I suspect it’s not…
Have you ventured into other forms of poetry?
Oh yes, in my early days of writing I believed bush poetry was the ‘be all end all’ and other forms were not worth looking at but, since joining Tropical Writers in Cairns, and with the assistance of Hazel Menehira, the poets at TW, and Poets Online, I have learnt to appreciate just what disciplines and structures are involved in other forms. I have now written award winning sonnets, free verse and traditional verse. I’ve also had wonderful compliments for my Haiku and Tanka poetry. Though in saying that, my first love will always be Australian bush poetry.
You’ve received a number of awards during your very busy 4 years of writing.
I have. Here’s the list.
Selected in the top ten award for ASA Publishing’s anthology 2007.
Primary short list/commended place, Tom Howard poetry competition 2008
2nd place in ASA Publishing poetry competition 2008.
Commended place in Scribligums ‘Gumblossoms’ competition 2008.
The ‘Double Tap’ award for war poetry presented by the International War Veterans Poetry Archives 22nd November 2008.
Commended place in Scribligums ‘Gumblossoms’ competition 2010.
2nd place in Scribligums short story competition 2010.
Commended place in Scribligums short story competition 2010.
Commended place in the Cervantes bush poetry competition 2010.
1st place in the Reef Writers, Port Douglas Gazette poetry competition 2010.
Commended place in the Eastwood/Hills region of the Fellowship of Australian Writers
2011 literary competition, traditional section for my sonnet ‘Why’.
1st place in the Reef Writers, Port Douglas Gazette poetry competition 2011.
That’s very impressive!!
Do you have favourite topics to write about? If so, what are they?
No I don’t really have any particular favourite topics though obviously I do enjoy writing about the Aussie landscape and our war heroes.
How do you hope to differentiate yourself from other poets?
I’m not all that interested in distinguishing myself from other poets. I would rather be accepted by other poets, as a poet, and be known for what and how I write. I would also like to ignite the interests of school aged children and those not normally involved with poetry with my poems.
There are many readers who are not quite sure what poets are trying to say. I’m sure we all spent hours at school grappling with the hidden meaning in poems. Your writing is so clear. Did you deliberately set out to write poems that had no ambiguity, poems that say what they mean?
No..it was not my intention, it’s how I write. I think a lot of today’s poets and their poetry is too ‘sterile’ or ‘academic,’ using words, phrases or metaphors that average people do not understand. I believe this is one of the reasons poetry has lost some of its appeal. I try to keep my writing simple and clear so everyone can understand them.
You’ve succeeded there, Dave!
I know you also write short stories and have had many of those published.
Yes, I’m quite proud of my memoir/short story achievements, firstly there was the James Cook University where my ‘Tony the Wogs Mango tree’ was accepted by a panel of academics for publication in their journal LiNQ, I also had ‘Duffel bag of poetry receive 2nd place in Scribligums short story competition 2010 against submissions worldwide, as did ‘Encounter of a Different Kind’ receive a commended place in Scribligums short story competition 2010.
What’s next? What project are you working on at the moment?
I’m not actually working on any projects at the moment, though I am still writing the odd poem when the inspiration hits me, also I’m concentrating on promoting my new book and just ‘getting it out there’ and already thinking about my next book which will be a collection of new poems and short stories.
Dave, thanks for taking the time to visit us today. Your new book OUT OF AUSTRALIA is currently available from Amazon, Barnes Noble, online shops & soon will be available from Collins Bookseller Smithfield & the ABC shop in Cairns central.
You can contact Dave ata firstname.lastname@example.org for a signed copy.
I am a former Brisbane boy but now currently live and work in Cairns with my very patient, and darling wife, I sometimes wonder where I get the time to write but always seem to manage to pen something, also I am a member Tropical writers group Cairns, Arts nexus Cairns & Australian Bush Poets Association among other literary sites on the web.
Having had limited education including no formal education in writing and now in my late 50’s, I wanted to show that someone like myself without higher schooling could write and enjoy it. For me school, Rocklea State School, (when I was there) was a place to ‘hang out’ with my mates and I actually only completed 3 months of high school (Salisbury) before leaving at the age of 15.
After numerous jobs throughout my youth I eventually moved into Furniture Removals where I stayed for approximately 25 years. For 17 of these, my wife and I operated our own removal business, and was able to travel extensively throughout N.S.W and Queensland.
Since leaving the removal industry several years ago and having some ‘thinking’ time, my experiences, memories of driving the highways and tracks, the vast and beautiful outback, my wife, daughters, grand children and family, stories from mates, work colleagues and close war veterans have given me the inspiration for my writings.