Australian Poetry & Song

So it’s Australia Day…

I am not one for all the nationalistic flag waving that seems to have taken a stronghold in our culture these days, in fact, I find it downright frightening.

I do, however, often celebrate the greatness of this country through poetry & song. So if you are looking for a good hit of Australian sounds today, here’s my tips:

I came across this fantastic archive of Australian & New Zealand poets reading their work as part of last year’s NZ Electronic Poetry Centre’s two-part symposium held in Auckland & Sydney. It features readings by some of our finest contemporary poets – Ken Bolton, Pam Brown, John Tranter, Peter Minter, Jill Jones & last year’s winner of the Val Vallis Award for an unpublished poem, Michelle Cahill. There’s plenty of good stuff to dive into… so head to the NZEPC Page and slip inside a poem or three.

And if it’s Australian songs you want… then here’s my big three:

More than any other album, The Triffids – Born Sandy Devotional, captures the vastness of Australia. Wide Open Road is such an important song… David McComb’s voice still grips my heart tightly and the band ache inside me. It is a song of longing… a song of distance & light.

I recall a schoolboy coming home/ through fields of cane/ to a house of tin and timber/ And in the sky/ a rain of falling cinders

Cattle & Cane is a song you can attach memories to, more like a painting than a story. With it’s elegant acoustic/electric arrangement and distinctively Australian lyric, it has become an important part of the fabric of our sonic landscape.

In 2008, Under the Milky Way was voted by a readers of The Weekend Australian as the best Australian song of the last 20 years.  The shimmering beauty of this song is timeless… a true classic. Am so looking forward to seeing the band play a special one off show – A Psychedelic Symphony – at the Sydney Opera House this April with the George Ellis Orchestra. 30 years and The Church are still looking forward…

And if you have not seen Steve Kilbey’s ARIA Hall-of-Fame acceptance speech, do yourself a favour. Pure brilliance!

So that’s my sounds of Australia… Enjoy!


Filed under poetry & publishing, who listens to the radio?

12 responses to “Australian Poetry & Song

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Australian Poetry & Song | Another Lost Shark --

  2. gmc

    it’s amazing; seen from france – myself of course, coz triffids, go betweens and the church are only known by few, in what we call rock subculture – , it seems that “treeless plain” was more essential than “born sandy devotional”, especially the song “red pony”.
    from the church, “gold afternoon fix” seems to be their best LP, and the song “aura” one of their best.

    • gnunn

      hi gmc,

      being a huge fan of the church, i have to say, priest=aura is my favourite album, as it marked a real turning point for the band… a freeing up of their creative spirit that i feel was greatly tampered with during the recording of gold afternoon fix (gaf). gaf has some great somgs on it, but the recording fails to capture their magic. aura on the other hand, is pure bliss… you should also check out their latest lp, untitled#23. a new classic for the band!

  3. an everflowing font of wonder, thou art! 🙂

  4. Three great songs. ‘Cattle and Cane’ still gives me a shiver.

    The Home and Away gigs were a terrific experience in both Auckland and Sydney, and I’m glad some of the experience is reaching across the digital bridge/s.

    • gnunn

      has been a real pleasure to watch those readings Jill. glad cattle and cane is still giving you that thrill… it’s magic will never fade.

  5. sandra simpson

    Thanks for the pointers to the music, Graham. To repay, I’ll give you this link:

    Dave Dobbyn is one of our finest singer/songwriters. This version has been slightly amended to celebrate our national day (February 6) but was originally written in support of Ahmed Zaoui, an Algerian Muslim who claimed refugee status but then went into a long limbo of imprisonment, house arrest and so. Some Catholic fathers in Auckland offered to meet his release conditions so he didn’t have to stay in prison and it’s possible to find a YouTube version that shows Mr Zaoui and his “saviours”.

    I do hope Australia has been able to celebrate, even if just a little.

    • gnunn

      thanks for the link Sandra. it’s funny, dave dobbyn is probably known only for his ‘slice of heaven’ song over here, but i have been fortunate enough to have heard quite a few of his albums and i think he is a superb songwriter. not that slice of heaven isn’t lots of fun!

  6. Graham said: “I am not one for all the nationalistic flag waving that seems to have taken a stronghold in our culture these days, in fact, I find it downright frightening.”

    And I am glad that you also do.
    The dog rolls in a cow pat, but does not become the cow. And though we take on the veneer of another culture, we do not become that culture.
    Being frightened helps.
    Keeping the dog muzzled on a lead helps too,
    but no.
    Be frightened of the dog: not the cow. Train your puppies well.

  7. gmc

    btw, here’s my fav australian song:

    • gnunn

      thanks for this gmc, hadn’t heard this one for ages. it’s sad that people seem to have forgotten about the saints’ 8o’s output, as there were some great albums. ghost ships is one of my all time fave saints songs.

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