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Bush poet wins Queensland State Performance championships

Violet Town teacher and bush poet, Rhonda Tallnash was inspired by keeping 'Aussie lingo' alive.

MONQIUE FREER July 17, 2014 3:45am

Rhonda Tallnash was awarded the handcrafted America white oak barrel for winning the Australian Bush Poetry Queensland State female championships this month

A special education teacher from Violet Town is winning accolades in her bid to preserve Australian slang and lingo.

Rhonda Tallnash took up bush poetry four years ago and this month won the female Queensland State Performance Championships in Bundaberg.

The poet said she was delighted to win the prize in a competition she is so passionate about.

‘‘As a special education teacher, I was really concerned that kids don’t understand Aussie lingo,’’ she said.

‘‘I always thought that if we don’t keep doing it, we’ll lose it, and then I found a group of Australians that think like I do.’’

At the Victorian Championships in April — held as part of the Man From Snowy River Bush Festival — Ms Tallnash was the highest scoring Victorian woman.

She also won the overall female prize at a competition in Dunedoo in March, is a regular performer at the Tamworth Country Music Festival’s poets’ breakfast and was invited to perform at Longyard at the Country Music Festival last year.

Bush poetry competitions feature two sections: written and performance.

Although she writes her own poetry, Ms Tallnash said she always entered the performance sections because she needed to perform her work.

In the Queensland competition, Ms Tallnash had to perform work in three categories: classical poetry (pre 1964), modern (post 1964) and original.

Each poem had a strict eight-minute time limit.

‘‘The poem must be Australian and have a strong Australiana theme, it must have true rhyme and it must have a meter or beat,’’ she said.

‘‘Some judges will say that they want a really strong narrative that moves the listener along.’’

With a serious and a humorous poem prepared, Ms Tallnash did not choose which one she would recite until less than half an hour before her performance.

She chose to present her poem 3am demise, which was inspired by a snippet she heard on talkback radio about the fact that the body’s biorhythms are at their lowest at 3am.

‘‘Everyone was doing such serious poems, but I thought I’d break the solemn section,’’ she said.

Ms Tallnash’s literature skills extend beyond bush poetry, having penned seven children’s books since 2006.

She also works at St Mary’s Primary School in Seymour three days a week and said she was passionate about encouraging children to preserve Australian lingo and the written language through literature.

For more information about Ms Tallnash’s work, visit

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