Chivalry is not dead. And neither, apparently, is poetry

Published on Eloise Snape (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Able Seaman Boatswain Mate Albert Donahue practices reciting poetry on the forecastle of HMAS Success which is docked at Fleet Base East, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Able Seaman Boatswain Mate Albert Donahue practices reciting poetry on the forecastle of HMAS Success which is docked at Fleet Base East, Sydney.

Theatre in education company Poetry in Action is writing a new show based on poetry written by people in the Defence Forces and their families. The performance will then tour as part of their annual program which is seen by over 50,000 young Aussies across the country.

Since its inception in 2005, Poetry in Action has grown rapidly to be one of Australia’s premiere touring theatre companies. They have developed a solid reputation for irreverent and funny performances and, while there’s sure to be plenty of both in their new show, Artistic Director Bryce Youngman also anticipates that it will touch on some more poignant themes as well.

“It’s about showing kids that people in the armed forces are capable of being eloquent and insightful as well as brave.”

Youngman says “We’ve done performances of (British WWI poet) Wilfred Owen’s poetry for years which have been hugely successful. Kids can really relate to someone who writes from the heart about what they see, think and feel. We thought it was about time we looked at what Aussies in battle had to say about their experiences.”

The new show will showcase Australian poetry from across the last hundred years and combat the stereotype of the tight-lipped, laconic Aussie fighter.

“Being a poet and being in the Defence Forces aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be brave, resourceful and soulful as well. We’re setting out to find the best poetry from which fits the theme and hopefully can inspire the kids we perform for to have a crack themselves,” Youngman says.

And in case there’s any budding poets out there reading this, don’t worry there’s a spot for you too.

“We’d love to have some poetry in the show that’s really contemporary and we’ll be approaching the Defence Forces to see if there’s anyone interested in sharing their work with us and maybe including it in the show.”

If anyone is interested in submitting their work or finding out more you can contact Bryce Youngman at Poetry in Action on 1300 900 658 or write to bryce@poetryinaction.com.au.