Sooo … I thought I might put some new work out into space via the site now it’s up and running. For years now I’ve been working on two big collections of oral poems. My interest was initially sparked by being drawn to Māori oral poetry. I began writing a collection of oriori, waiataaroha, mōteatea and haka when my daughter was born. It has been an amazing journey (and God knows when it will ever let me finish it!)
About half-way through working on this though, I met Neil Colquhoun - who apart from being a namesake - was a collector (and repairer) and composer of New Zealand folk-song. At that point I started to wonder what Pākehā oral poetry might sound (and look) like. So I started a collection working on figuring this out as well.
I took some characters from Pākehā history and started to sing about them in those forms that poetry in English took when it first arrived in Aōtearoa, i.e. sea-shanties, hymns, skipping songs and clapping songs.
My daughter has been tortured by my warbling. And embarrassed (so what, eh?).
I thought I’d share some on the site. Take a look and have a listen below. If you feel like joining in and singing or playing a version then please feel free to send me a clip in and I’ll stick it up. The more the merrier I say. There is a part of me that especially wants a primary school class full of recorder players to hammer one to death!
Go well out there. Our stories are amazing.
Oh … by the way - I loved my little Calvino book - full of beautifully told myths and folk stories. Fantastic stuff … sometimes I think I need to retire from medicine and just write!
Barney Whiterats was a swagman who travelled the roads of Southland and Canterbury from the 1870’s until just before his death in 1911 (at the age of ninety). On the road he turned his hand to organ grinding, Punch and Judy shows and communicating with the dead! Most famously he showed off his performing white mice (which was the reason he was known as Barney Whiterats). His real name was Barney Winters and he was a showman in London before he emigrated to New Zealand. Charles Dickens was said to have based a character in one of his novels on him. I don’t know which one though.
Hope you enjoy! Or endure?!
Listen to Glenn's recording of 'A Nursery for Barney Whiterats' here...