Rod Williams, Bush Poetry

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Two Poems To Read

Winning the male Australian Bush poetry Championship — April 2015 — in such a sweeping victory, was the culmination of hard work and achievement since previously suffering a SEVERE BRADYCARDIA in the third week of September 2014.

I am very proud of this achievement as I worked so hard in recovery also returning to Aged Care support, volunteer entertainment and carrying out a Children's School Holidays (High Country) Library Tour — supported of course by my Wild, Green–Eyed, affectionate (particularly with children, old people, or those who may be afflicted in some way) Dog and Mate Dusty — or by special title — Mr Dust. Jessie “The Bonza Blue Dog”, would be proud of him.

ABPA Champion 2015
ABPA Champion 2015
(Photo Courtesy Wangaratta Chronicle)

I have not attended any festivals or Poetry Competitions since The Victorian Championships in 2013, also held at The Snowy River Festival in Corryong and I also won every section in the competition being crowned with ‘Clancy's Choice Award’ for Best Male Performer along with ‘Victorian Champion’.
I have also previously won the other Award (held each year separately from the main Competition) which is ‘The Man from Snowy River’ recital.
I did not enter it this year as I have won it twice before and on another two occasions been runner–up, so I am happy.

I performed another one of A.B. “Banjo” Paterson's poems though — in the Classical Section at the 2015 Championships.
This poem ‘In the Droving Days’ (as I said on the day) in my opinion is one of Banjo's finest — and is certainly my favourite. It also returns me to my childhood when I first read the poem and “The Saltbush Plains” (the old drover refers to) also hold deep, fond, memories for me.

The Clancy Award
My Certificate for ABPA Australian Male Champion Performer and Clancy's Award for The Man from Snowy River male Over-all Champion

None of the “Saltbush and Mulga–Sandalwood Country” should ever have been cleared, ploughed–up and put under irrigation.
It is another case of environmental vandalism in pursuit of the “Mighty Dollar”.

I was brought up on a farm and from five years of age my father taught me to care for the land and give back to “Mother Earth” more than we take from her.

I have just written a few pages — My Little Autobiography — of my early life history to show that my involvement in the cattle, shearing, and timber industries has been huge, right from when I was six years of age.
It shows how I grew up with Bush poetry, how I have always loved it and read or performed it in the real work places since I was a child.
That was what, at 29 years of age, took me off “The Board” in the shearing sheds to “Tread the Boards” on Stage at the New Theatre as a professional actor for the next 11 years, while also finding time for long trips to Wattie Creek, Wave Hill in the Northern Territory, fighting beside Vincent Lingiari (my brother) and the Gurindji people for recognition and Legal Rights to their land.
It was not a fight for their dignity — no one was ever able to take that away from them.

Then, for another 15 years, I worked six months as a shearer and six months as a performer. These were some of my best years (next to early shearing days and as a very young stockman, or rather stock–lad).
After that I did casual bush work — fencing, mustering, digging and planting new gardens etc.

One example is the garden I single–handedly dug and planted around the Heritage Cottage at Murrurundi near Scone in N S W. The flowers and trees made the little cottage smile as it looked so lonely sitting there on it's own.
I also (with My Blue Dog Jessie) toiled for months barrrowing many rocks from the Pages River bed to build a Wishing Well there. But it was loving toil.
It was all built with much love and care (to last many lifetimes) and I had it dedicated to The Children Of Murrurundi.
I wrote a poem about the cottage, “I Am Sap And Grain, I Am Sweat And Blood” and won the Open Original Verse award at Tamworth in 1999 performing it.
I hope, sometime, to tell you more and post up some photos about some beaut and funny times had with Gwen and Carmel at the cottage, about the building of the well, and of George Grieve who did the carpentry for the roof.

Outside Wangaratta Library
Dusty and myself outside Wangaratta Library during a recent tour
(Photo Courtesy Wangaratta Chronicle)

And this, Little Autobiography, will also show why I am now a very strong conservationist and appalled by people's total disregard for this planet, who think it is their bloody right to litter and pollute on a daily basis — along with big mining and energy companies who collude amongst themselves and with Governments.

Per capita we are the biggest polluters in a world now showing disgust at Australia's complete refusal to try and repair the damage we have caused that has resulted in the rapid heating of the planet.
Abbott has manufactured a mandate to ignore these extremely urgent issues, (issues we are wiping our hands of and shoving into the lap of the rest of the world).
And where does this mandate come from?
Just look at the Abbott Government's ruthless and heartless attitude towards Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
Stop the boats to save lives? What garbage! Abbott stopped the boats because the racists in this country don't want the people here. Their's was the vote that brought Abbott to power. And now he and his cronies let off the big energy and mineral miners and the corrupt, ruthless officials in places like that hell called Nauru.
“Who gives a shit if they drown it's not our problem, we just don't want 'em 'ere!” AND — “Bastard Greenies, global–warming is a load of bullshit”!
Statements loaded with racism, paranoia and ignorance!

“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie — Self, Self, Self”.
Roderick said that!

As for the debate on our National Security and citizenship, Abbott again knows he has the numbers (amongst the citizens who voted his way) as he fuels the “Fires of Hate” by dealing out that great trick of Dictators — creating, and then playing on, the fears of the people.
Unfortunately the main opposition party has no guts and have been destroyed by their own hand.
So God rules in Parliament.

When will we have another strong, decent, human being with guts enough to take down this swaggering, pompous, control–freak?
Anyone who would have Cardinal George Pell as their Spiritual Mentor would have to be under suspicion. Wouldn't they?

I will place My Little Autobiography on another page sometime. But for now please read the rest of this — and the poems. Also all about the “Kids Tour”, available by clicking here.

I know Paterson would be deeply affected by much of the environmental destruction that has taken place throughout Australia as well as the deliberate torching (for insurance) of shearing sheds, heritage hotels, Theatres, heritage homes and homesteads with no consideration of the priceless cultural and heritage value of these icons and I know that Banjo would be ashamed (just as I am) of these blatant and arrogant acts of widespread vandalism by Australians.
And just like the dispossessing of Aboriginal people from their land by thieving, trickery and murder of tribal groups — it will never (unless admitted to) read as the true history of the selfish destruction, cultural vandalism, wrongs, racism, and murder, but will remain as infected, open, running sores.

Much has been done but there are still so many denials and “The Silences are Screaming!” R.W.

I would like you to read two beautiful Poems.

One is my own ‘Travel the Red Road — Dare to Dream’ and the other was written by Max Merchenschlager — ‘Requiem for a Pioneer’.
I performed my poem in the Original Serious Section and Max's poem in the Modern Section of the competition. Both were winning performances — for myself and Max's fine poem.
‘Travel the Red Road — Dare to Dream’ also won “The Jack Riley Heritage Award” for best heritage poem of the festival — and I am proud to receive this timely honour.
So click here to read the preambles and poems.

The titles and authors of the poems I performed in the four sections of the main competition including Awards I received (along with previous year's awards) are listed in the menu under AWARDS. Click here to view.