The Australian Bush Poets Association defines Bush Poetry as ‘metered and rhymed poetry about Australia, Australians and/or the Australian way of life’. The genre includes such iconic works as “The Man From Snowy River” by Banjo Paterson and “My Country” by Dorothea Mackellar.
‘John O’Brien’ was the pen-name of a bush poet and Catholic priest Patrick Hartigan, who was parish priest of St Mel’s parish in Narrandera from 1917 to 1944. Recording with humour and pathos the lively faith, solid piety and everyday lives of the people around him, Hartigan successfully combined the old faith of Ireland with the mateship and ethos of the bush, towards the end of an age when the small selectors and squatters went by sulky or ‘shandrydan’ to ‘The Church Upon the Hill’.
The John O’Brien Festival and Competitions
Since 1994 Narrandera has held an annual Festival in honour of the town’s beloved poet and parish priest, with 2014 marking the Festival’s 20th anniversary. The John O’Brien Festival showcases the works of ‘John O’Brien’ himself along with other bush poets from across Australia, and sees wonderful performances each year of both original works and traditional classics.
The John O’Brien Festival seeks to inspire a new generation of bush poets by hosting a number of poetry writing and recital competitions each year, along with an appropriately themed short story writing competition. The Jim Angel Memorial Award is presented annually for the best performance of an original poem.
Click on the links below to find out more about these competitions:
The winners of each competition will be announced on this website.
Poetry and Writing Competition Results
John O’Brien Festival Competition results for 2018:
Open Writing Competition
Winner – Jim Kent with Calling to Me
Runner-up – Jim Kent with Calling to Me – The Golden Days
Short Story Section
Winner – Helen Cunningham with Calling to Me
Runner-up – Margaret-Anne Cameron with Sisters
Poetry Performance Competitions
John O’Brien Poetry Recital Competition:
Winner – Caroline Tuohey
Bush Poetry Competition:
Winner – Rhonda Tallnash
Runner-up – Caroline Tuohey
Jim Angel Award
Winner – Rhonda Tallnash with Retribution Road