Not too late to discover poetry

By Olivia Duffey

Bush poetry performer Alex Allitt is encouraging everyone to give poetry a go — writing it, reading it or even performing it.

The 91 year-old has always loved poetry, which he said he inherited from his mother, and found a ‘‘more serious’’ passion for bush poetry in later life.

It led him to become a founding member of the Deniliquin Bush Poetry Club and performing regularly in the community, which he has been missing since Coronavirus restrictions were put in place.

‘‘I miss performing very much,’’ he said.

‘‘I used to go to Navorina once a month and perform, and the residents really loved it.

‘‘It gave me a nice feeling because I was able to give these people some happiness.’’

‘‘I didn’t come into poetry until I was 70 because I didn’t have the opportunity (before then), so I believe everyone has the ability to give it a go.

‘‘It has led me to start running a poetry event for school children for the past five years, for those who are interested in it.

‘‘We have not been able to meet to do it this year, but the children will continue to be rewarded for their efforts in poetry.’’

Mr Allitt’s biggest piece of advice is to write about something you know about, drawing from experiences and even a bit of imagination.

‘‘It is a wonderful medium for enjoyment,’’ he said.

‘‘You can make people laugh and cry, those are the main two emotions, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do that.

‘‘I encourage people to perform their poetry as well, but make sure you bring the poem to life and live the poem.

‘‘If you are into it, you will learn how to do this, and it will stick with you forever.’’

Thanks to technology, Mr Allitt said members of the Deniliquin Bush Poetry Club have been able to continue to meet during restrictions.

But he said he cannot wait for the time that face-to-face meetings are allowed again.

‘‘We have been unable to meet in person, but we have been having Zoom meetings with other poetry clubs,’’ Mr Allitt said.

‘‘It is not as good as the real thing, but it has been exciting and has allowed us to continue doing some form of poetry.’’

Mr Allitt has been honoured twice in recent years for his contribution to culture in the local community.

He was the recipient of the Edward River Council Australia Day 2018 Senior Arts and Culture Award, and in 2019 he was bestowed a NSW Seniors Festival Local Achievement Award as part of the 2019 Seniors Festival.