For a record fourth time, Airey’s Inlet writer David Campbell has won the Blackened Billy Award for Written Bush Verse – the premier Australian Bush Poetry Association (ABPA) award for Bush Poetry.
Held annually in Tamworth in conjunction with the Country Music Festival, Mr Campbell’s winning poem My Father’s Voice is a vivid account (part fiction, part non-fiction) of the hardships and suffering endured on the land and at war by his father.
Blackened Billy adjudicator Brenda Joy said Mr Campbell’s poem was both skilfully written and thought provoking. “From this perspective, the poet then takes us to the present pertinent issue of climate change poignantly conveying through his eyes his father’s hopes, that all that has been sacrificed will not have been in vain,” Ms Joy said.
“This poem is both effective, topical and provocative. It was adjudged to be a very worthy winner of this most prestigious poetic honour.”
A retired school teacher and principal, Mr Campbell said he ventured further into writing upon retirement and has dedicated himself to the art form since the early 2000s.
“When I was approaching retirement I thought to myself, ‘what am I going to do?’. Writing was always something that appealed to me and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since,” he said.
“This piece touched on my father’s experience at war in Papua New Guinea and Kokoda. He never lived on the land as the poem depicts, so some of it’s my imagination and other parts are biographical.”
Mr Campbell said their family was living in Aireys Inlet on Ash Wednesday in 1983 and as people evacuated and properties
burnt down around them, his father watered their own.
“Our house was one of the few houses that survived, we neighboured the original Airey’s pub that burned down. My father
was directly involved in saving our house, so there’s that link in the poem,” he said.
“I visualised what the conversation about war would’ve been like with him and have done a lot of reading on it.
“I first won this award in 2007, then 2009, 2012 and now 2019. I felt this was quiet a strong piece and given the aspect with my father, even though he didn’t grow up on the land – that was imagined – given his war experience and personal nature I was particularly pleased to win this one.”
To see more of Mr Campbell’s works go to campbellwriter.com.