Small Beginnings, 8: Stephen Whiteside

Stephen at time of writing the poem, with his boat

Stephen at time of writing the poem, with his boat

Below is a poem, “The Fur and Feather Sailing Club”, that I probably wrote when I was about 19 or 20. I forget exactly. It was certainly before I had had anything professionally published.

I grew up very much under the spell of Banjo Paterson – The Geebung Polo Club, The Man from Ironbark, Mulga Bill’s Bicycle, Clancy of the Overflow, The Man From Snowy River.
I also learned to sail as a boy, and loved the adventure and the independence that it offered me.
It is no surprise, then, that I wrote a Banjo Paterson-inspired sailing poem!
In many ways, this poem is a watery version of “The Geebung Polo Club”, although the overall shape/narrative is very much along the lines of “The Man From Snowy River”.
It is probably fair to say that not a huge amount has changed in my writing over the years. I still love narrative rhyming verse, though I generally write shorter poems these days, because that is what publishers want. I tend to play much more now with form and subject matter, but narrative rhyming verse is my default position – something I can always fall back to if all else fails!
The Fur and Feather Sailing Club
by Stephen Whiteside
(first two verses)
A splendid sight the clubhouse was, adorned with flapping flags,

Along the beach, the band in tartan trews;

The car park overflowing with Mercedes Benz and Jags,

Inside the briefing room, the anxious crews.

 

The myriad spectators sniffed the breeze and sipped champagne,

While their darling little children swallowed Coke,

And no-one seemed to notice, down a long-forgotten lane,

A dusty, dirty, battered Mini-Moke.

READ THE FULL POEM HEREThe Fur and Feather Sailing Club

 

Stephen Whiteside has been writing rhyming verse for many years. He writes for both adults and children. Many of his poems have been published in magazines or anthologies, both in Australia and overseas, or won awards. He has also self-published several volumes of verse.

In 2014, Walker books Australia published a collection of his poems for children, “’The Billy That Died With Its Boots On’ and Other Australian Verse”. In 2015, the book won a Golden Gumleaf for “Book of the Year” at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Stephen is a great admirer of the Australian poet C. J. Dennis. He is President of the C. J. Dennis Society, and a key organiser of the annual Toolangi C. J. Dennis Poetry Festival. The festival is held in October every year at Dennis’ former home in Toolangi, a small hamlet in the wooded hills 65 km east of Melbourne. In 2016 the festival will be celebrating the centenary of the publication in 1916 of “The Moods of Ginger Mick”.

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