Searching for Banjo Paterson

"The Courier-Mail" newspaper is wondering where all the new major poets are. Likening the current long-running drought with that suffered by the country in the 1890s, the unnamed writer of this piece points out:

The impact of the 1890s drought on the country we live in today is almost impossible to exaggerate. There is a case to be argued that even the decision for the colonies to federate was influenced by the terrifying realities of that big dry.

The Australian Labor Party became a real political force because of that drought; our Constitution contains carefully worded phrases about the allocation of water rights because of that drought; some men walked away from hopeless lives and went off to fight the Boer War because of that drought, and some of our greatest cultural treasures exist because of that drought. Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson wrote some of their finest works on the back of the social and economic upheaval of the times.

So, where are the current-day responses to this big dry? Methods of communication have changed markedly in the past 110 years, not least of them being the demise of poetry as a popular artform. But has anything stepped in to take its place? Has the massive social shift from the "bush" to the "city" in Australian society distanced us so much from the effects of the drought that any artistic response
will be minimal and ineffectual?

We would hope not, but if the past four or five years is anything to go by, you'd have to say "yes".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 23, 2007 9:53 AM.

Weekend Round-Up 2007 #17 was the previous entry in this blog.

Film Adaptation of Nim's Island by Wendy Orr is the next entry in this blog.

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