Selected Verse of C.J. Dennis

It's not often that good old "Den" gets much of an outing these days - that is, if you exempt certain scurrilous little web logs where he seems to turn up with monotonous regularity. So it's good to see him get a mention on the web, and especially on non-Australian web pages.

Nancy Pearl has been described by "The New York Times" as "the librarian version of a rock star" for her books Book Lust and More Book Lust, both of which are subtitled "Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason." She has put her name to a website called "Book Lust: A Community for People Who Love Books with Nancy Pearl", which is a series of web pages that encourage submissions from readers.

One of the topics under discussion is the old favourite "Desert Island Books", which raises the question "If you were stranded on a desert island with only 10 books to read, which would you want with you?" It's one that is played around the world and wouldn't be one I took much notice of usually, except, in this case, C.J. Dennis gets mentioned.

It doesn't seem possible to determine the nationality of the authors of these lists so I won't try. let's assume they are international and leave it at that. The relevant submission (it's some way down the page) comes from Leisa, who lists her top ten as:

1. Participating in Nature: Thomas J. Elpel's Field Guide to Primitive Living Skills
2. Selected Verse of CJ Dennis
3. The Mysterious Stranger and other stories - Mark Twain
4. Daughter of Fortune - Isabel Allende
5. A Portrait in Sepia - Isabel Allende
6. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
7. Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle - Dervla Murphy
8. On a Shoestring to Coorg: An Experience of South India - Dervla Murphy
9. In Ethiopia with a Mule - Dervla Murphy
10. Darling Buds of May - H.E. Bates.

An interesting, and relatively diverse, list indeed - I especially liked the first entry. She seems to want to be sure she stays alive long enough to re-read the other nine. But it's the Dennis entry that catches my eye.

Selected Verse of C.J. Dennis was first published in 1950, some 12 years after Dennis's death, chosen and introduced by Alec H. Chisholm, a man who knew and worked with Dennis, and who published the first major biography of the writer, The Making of the Sentimental Bloke, in 1946. The collection takes poems from Dennis's major works, such as The Sentimental Bloke, Jim of the Hills, Digger Smith, The Glugs of Gosh, Ginger Mick, Blackblock Ballads, The Book for Kids and Doreen, as well as selections from The Backblock Ballads collections and The Singing Garden. It's a good overall introduction to the work of Dennis, taking you through his working career and hitting all the high points. You could do worse than buy a copy if you wanted to find out more about the author that I rate in the top half-dozen Australian poets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I doubt whether Leisa's inclusion of Dennis on her list will increase his readership but it made my day to see him there.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 15, 2006 10:56 AM.

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