Jack Thompson and C.J. Dennis


That fine Australian actor, Jack Thompson, gave a reading of C.J. Dennis poems yesterday in association with the release of a CD of his readings of the poet. I received notification of the event only a few days ago and wasn't actually sure I was going to be able to make it. I'm glad I did.

The reading took place in St Francis Church in Lonsdale Street in Melbourne's CBD. Described by the priest currently in charge of the church as the oldest building in Melbourne still being used for its original purpose, it was a strange location for a poetry reading.

Surrounded by prayer candles and paintings of the Stations of the Cross about 250 people listened to Thompson reading selections from Dennis's The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. He started by talking about his love of Dennis's words, and, in particular, those words that are no longer in widespread use. Words such as "cliner" (a young unmarried female), "Gorspil-cove" (a priest), and "glarrsy" (the glassy eye) - Thompson's favourite - were lovingly explained and expounded upon. You could tell the man was in love with the words, and the way they were used.

Although the CD release includes a range of Dennis poems, on this day Thompson restricted himself to just three selections from The Sentimental Bloke: "The Intro", "Doreen", and, my favorite, "The Play". He finished off with "Clancy of the Overflow" by Banjo Paterson, a personal favourite of his, and a phrase of which sits as the tagline for this weblog. All were warmly greeted by the audience with laughter in the right places and generous applause at the end.

"The Age" reported on the event in today's edition.


November 2009
Raymond J Warren
Blog Wildflower The Barbara Crawford Thompson Story

I were watching old Jack Thompson,
From a lounge I was ensconced on.
Observing TV day-time woman’s shows
For with very little premises,
Jack was reading C.J. Denis
In an accent that were Aussie that’s fer sure

“Now why can’t he do fer me”,
Came me desultory plea,
Why can’t he read from mine
All the lines I made rhyme,
I reckon old CJ were an Aussie to the core

Though CJ wrote of sentimental,
Not prone to be too temperamental,
I know that I’m more modern
And me work is much less sodden
With stuff that’s aged a hundred years or more

So Jack I hope yer notice,
Me poem coz I wrote it,
Hoping that one-day, you will read mine.
For my life I guess I’ll rue it, if you never ever do it
But that’s the price we pay to be the poor unknown

This space is unattended, so I guess if I can lend it, you won't mind if I post a bush poem or two?

TOBY [2001]
#10 By Raymond J Warren
[From Southwestern Queensland]

He stands proud and haughty, a sentinel of the land,
A wild ebony silhouette, with Woomera in his hand
Right dusty foot is rested, placed hard against left knee,
Old Toby from the deep bush, far from mount or sea.

The spirit of his youth is lost, for gray has tinged the black,
White spirits came to spurn him they don’t want him back.
But Toby found a crossroad, to build once more his den,
A young gin there to care for him, just like a mother hen.

They camped down by the coach road, their hunger to appease,
The spirits laughed and tittered, at black Adam and his Eve,
The novelty replaced by hate, then bellies start to grieve,
But Toby is too old and tired to take his gin and leave

A frumpy high strung landsman's wife, complains then bitterly,
Of naked natives on the road, begging flour, sweet and tea.
Ne’er before a worry but ‘tis then the lies are told,
To have old Toby dragged away and thrown in the hold.

The Sergeant and his constable, rode out to bring him in,
To take old Toby’s freedom and keep him from his gin.
Toby waited by the road, no shirt upon his back
Haughty and alone he stood, that wizened old black.

The policemen crept up silently, for Toby things looked dire,
But the old man ever was alert and waited quiet by his fire.
The young cop jumped at Toby to catch him off his guard,
A Nulla flew from toes to hand; the old black thumped him hard,

The Constable lay dying, his skull cracked like an egg,
The Sergeant fired off a shot that hit Toby in the leg.
Toby threw his war club, with the strength of one too old,
He bounced it off the horse’s flank then Toby’s blood ran cold,

For the Sergeant rode straight at him, till scarce a yard between,
And sent a lead ball through his eye, the gin let out a scream.
Old Toby just before he fell rose up to his full height,
The end came for the ancient ones, at Toby’s final fight.
[Woomera/spear thrower. Nulla/War club

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 1, 2009 2:45 PM.

Australian Bookcovers #188 - The Dragon Man by Garry Disher was the previous entry in this blog.

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