“Waltzing Matilda,” Australia’s unofficial national anthem, is a poem written by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson, the original Aussie “Bush Poet.” Schoolchildren learn his rhyming stanzas, shearers chant his poetry while clipping wool from their sheep, and Australian Quota clubs organize events to encourage appreciation of this distinctly Aussie art form.
QI of Brunswick Valley, New South Wales, organizes a Bush Poets Show in their community, featuring readings by bush poets, vocalizations, raffles, and games of chance. The club nets nearly Aus.$3,000 during the event.
QI of Murwillumbah, New South Wales, hosts a Bush Poets Weekend, featuring performances of nationally acclaimed bards and other entertainment. The weekend brings in around Aus.$1,800 for club service.
According to the Australian Bush Poets Association, bush poetry must be set in Australia. Topics can vary, but poems must rhyme and possess definite rhythm. For a taste of bush poetry, read works by Banjo Paterson (1864-1941) and Henry Lawson (1867-1922). Click here to visit National Geographic’s Web site for a bush poetry reading.