Victorian competitor Roderick Williams won his fourth Henry Lawson Literary Award on Saturday evening with a performance of a poem he learned as an eleven-year-old.
Mr Williams’ chose The Play, from the C.J. Dennis classic The Sentimental Bloke, for his entry in the Leonard Teale Memorial Performance Poetry competition, held at the Prince of Wales Opera House as part of the Henry Lawson Heritage Festival.
His performance was chosen by judges from among nine finalists who performed works ranging from familiar works such as Lawson’s Faces in the Street, to humorous modern poems.
Mr Williams said when he first heard his father recite The Play, he immediately decided to learn it. Two years later he performed it at a school play at his bush school in northern NSW.
“My love of poetry stems from that, and from my mother and father,” he said.
“Henry Lawson is my spiritual mentor in a sense, but I love C.J. Dennis’ work as well.”
Mr Williams has previously won the Loaded Dog statuette for emerging poets, as well as two Henry Lawson statuettes.
However, after an absence of several years from the competition, he said his fourth statuette was especially important to him.
“This [the Opera House] is one of the loveliest places to play in. It’s absolutely beautiful and I’m so sad that we don’t have a full house, because when the house is full, it works its magic and it’s a perfect play to perform.”
Second place in the Performance Poetry prize went to Ralph Scrivens, who presented the humorous poem, The Battle of the Sexes.
Jenny Markwell of Wangi Wangi, who performed There Ain’t No Cause to Worry Mum, was third.
John Davies of Kingspoint, NSW received the Emerging Performance Poet award after reciting Brady’s Ghost by Bruce Simpson.
Other finalists were James Balian (Willoughby, NSW), Rhonda Talnash (Violet Town, Victoria), Ken Tough (Pretty Beach NSW), Terry Regan (Emu Plains, NSW), and Ivor Morton of Lawson, NSW.
Henry Lawson Written Poetry Awards
1. Gallipoli’s Blameless Youth, by Brian Beesley, Black Springs NSW; 2. Heart of the Grey, Arthur Green, Warana, Qld; 3. The Ugly City Street, Terry Piggott, Lynwood, WA; Highly commended: Leonia Parker, Brassall, Qld; Catherine Lee, Mona Vale, NSW; Tom McIlveen, Port Macquarie; Commended: Tom McIlveen; David Campbell, Aireys Inlet, Victoria.
Emerging Written Poetry Awards
1. Nature’s Palette, Susan Reynolds, Stokers Siding, NSW; 2. Wheelahs, David Waterhouse, Oatley; 3. The Shearer’s Lament, Ralph Scrivens, Corrimal; Highly commended: David Waterhouse; Commended: David Watt, ACT, Melva Scott, Anglesea, Vic.