Western Riverina Arts will launch a booklet featuring a previously unpublished poem by John O'Brien on Saturday 15 March at the festival named after the famous poet in Narrandera.
"The John O’Brien Festival is an annual event in Narrandera, now in its 20th year, and the publication of How Stumpy Made the Weight seems like a fitting way to celebrate the occasion," said Derek Motion, Regional Arts Development Officer at Western Riverina Arts.
Father Patrick Hartigan (1878-1952) published his poetry under the nom de plume John O’Brien, including quintessentially Australian works Said Hanrahan, Tangmalangaloo and Around the Boree Log.
The poem How Stumpy Made the Weight was written for May Elizabeth Bishop (nee Knobel, 1896-1990). She was a tireless charity worker who was awarded a British Empire Medal for this work.
Father Hartigan was the School Inspector for the Goulburn Diocese early in Thurgoona, where May lived with her family, who entertained the local parish priest. His 1910 poem was accompanied by cartoon-style sketches, which are also reproduced in Western Riverina Arts' booklet.
"The poem is in typical O’Brien style," writes Derek Motion in the booklet's foreword, "humorous, rollicking and yet human."
How Stumpy Made the Weight will also include responses by local poets, including Julie Briggs, Jo Wilson-Ridley, Natalie Hopwood, Melanie Baulch, Derek Motion and Caroline Tuohey.
"It’s important to celebrate and learn from poetry of the past, as well as to support and encourage the efforts of contemporary regional poets. This is the rationale underpinning the publication of the John O’Brien poem How Stumpy Made the Weight and its companion pieces."
Copies of How Stumpy Made the Weight will be available for $5 each at the launch as part the wine-tasting at The Criterion Hotel from 7.30pm on Saturday 15 March.