Review Blog

Nov 21 2011

Classic Australian poems ed. by Christopher Cheng

cover image

Random House, 2011. ISBN 978 1 74275 3621.
Christopher Cheng invites his readers to enjoy, recite, laugh and be moved by the poetry presented in this compilation from the late Nineteenth and turn of the Twentieth Centuries. Cheng fondly recalls happy childhood moments spent enjoying and studying these favorites and I concurred with him before applauding his choices.
My initial impression was that Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson featured over prominently. I also pondered whether their depiction of dour, pioneering, outback battlers was a true reflection of a population which at the time was confined mainly to the Eastern coast of the nation. It was not long however before I was nodding assent and acknowledging how important the bush narrative is for a nation which for too long has placed excessive emphasis on military history and sporting achievement.
Perpetuating the romance of rural living and celebrating lairish defiance of disaster and hardship might be fraudulent for the vast majority of us who have never experienced it, but it's a heritage with which Cheng invites us to identify, at least for the time it takes to read and enjoy the poetry.
The only criticism I have with this book is that it was confined to 'Classic Poems', hence the aforesaid poets dominate with Henry Kendall and C.J. Dennis whilst relatively modern poets like Bruce Dawe don't feature. For what it's worth, some of the most meaningful verse in my experience has come from contemporary popular music and I know that young people genuinely engage with and share this textual form. If poetry compilers continue to ignore this verse, students will never see Lawson or Dennis because they will not have opened books to find Archie Roach, Paul Kelly Missy Higgins or Kasey C.
Rob Welsh

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
Text Prize 2017
NSW Premier Literary Awards shortlist 2017
Aurealis Awards winners
YABBA Awards shortlist 2017
Stella Prize 2017
2017 YALSA Teens' Top Ten Nominees
CBCA shortlists 2017
YA Book Prize 2017 shortlist
CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 shortlist
CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 shortlist
School Library Association Information Book Award 2017
2017 UKLA Book Awards shortlists
National Simultaneous Storytime 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Science fiction and fantasy lists SAETA conference 2015
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Books for boys
Bookmark and poster templates