UNE fosters regional heritage writing at Glen Innes festival

Published 29 October 2012

The University of New England is a sponsor, once again, of the heritage writing and bush poetry competitions that are held on the first weekend of the annual Land of the Beardies Festival at Glen Innes.

This year’s competitions, on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 November, are to be judged by representatives of UNE’s arts research centre Arts New England.

The New England Heritage in Verse Competition, on Saturday, invites writers from the New England region to read an original piece of verse or prose on a topic of cultural and/or heritage significance to the region.

“New England prides itself on its historical memory,” said one of the judges – Dr Tom Bristow, a lecturer in English at UNE. “These writings will be judged in terms of the depth of research and the accuracy in documenting a historical incident.”

The other judge will be Dr Robert Hayworth, a former UNE lecturer who is an expert on the geology, vegetation and ornithology of the region. The organisers are planning to compile a number of the competition entries in a local publication.

Dr Bristow and Dr Hayworth will also judge the Bush Poetry Competition on the following day, and a written Children’s Poetry Competition. The children’s competition has a farming theme in 2012, the “Year of the Farmer”. “The original poetry by our young people should provide us with fresh views on the role of farming in Australia’s past, present and future,” Dr Bristow said. He added that, to illustrate the bond of poetry across the generations, the winners of the children’s competition would be presenting the winners of the Bush Poetry Competition with their awards.

The Bush Poetry Competition is conducted under the auspices of the Australian Bush Poetry Association Inc. “Bush poetry is a form of verse that is characteristically colloquial, colourful, direct, and of local meaning,” Dr Bristow said. “It has moved from an emphasis on rural life in colonial times to a broader understanding of bush experience in Australia’s history and its cultural significance in the present.”

Public readings in the New England Heritage in Verse Competition and the Bush Poetry Competition will begin at 9 am on both days in the Land of the Beardies Festival Social Club Hall, East Avenue, Glen Innes. The readings on Sunday will be preceded by the Poets’ Breakfast at 8 am.

“The competitions are held in public to both entertain the local community and sustain the historical memory of the region,” Dr Bristow said. “UNE’s participation in these events continues the University’s long tradition of fostering and recording the culture of the central area of the Tablelands.”