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Bush poet inspired by Paterson

Echuca bush poet Nerelie Teese has won the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria’s Peter McCormack Bush Laureate Award for the second year running with her poem, Bringing Back The Cattle.

LAURA GRIFFIN January 22, 2013 4:02am

Bush poet Nerelie Teese


Echuca bush poet Nerelie Teese has won the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria’s Peter McCormack Bush Laureate Award for the second year running with her poem Bringing Back The Cattle.

The teacher-librarian and marriage celebrant said the award made her smile and she immediately shared the news with her family.

‘‘It is satisfying to know something you have written has been deemed worthy by judges who know what they are doing,’’ Mrs Teese said.

She said Australian bush poetry competitions helped promote the genre, which was distinguished not only by a connection to Australian landscape, culture and characters, but also a recognisable metre, rhythm and rhyme.

Mrs Teese was inspired to write the poem about cattle mustering and alpine grazing by her father’s experience of driving cattle.

Lines and images come to Mrs Teese when she is sitting by rivers or under trees, or when she pulls back the covers to get into bed.

She then spends time redrafting and rewriting the poems to get them as close to perfect as possible.

‘‘Some lines or even poems seem to have come from nowhere and write themselves.’’

Mrs Teese said she had two verses of a poem about Ned Kelly — who stole her great-great-grandfather’s horse — written since 2000. It was years before the third verse jumped into her head one evening.

She credits a primary school teacher’s reading of classic bush poetry, including by genre icons Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, for stirring her interest.

She loves performing as well as writing poetry.

‘‘I can see the audience, whether it be at a school, with a group of international visitors on the Ghan, at a retirement home or a Rotary club, enjoying the poetry,’’ Mrs Teese said.

‘‘As any performer, you connect with the energy in the room.

‘‘Australian bush poetry is a beautiful way to connect to all Australians. It doesn’t matter what age they are or whether they were born here or not.’’

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