POLL: Schools of thought about Banjo’s book club

THE inaugural Banjo Paterson Festival may begin in just three days but many of Orange’s youngest residents remain oblivious to the bush poet and his famous works.

The 150th birthday of the poet may be cause for celebration but the anniversary has shed a light the city’s youngest people.

With fears the poems and history surrounding Banjo Paterson might be slipping away in his birth city of Orange the Rotary Club of Orange has donated a book The Man From Snowy River to each primary school.

“There’s not a good understanding among young people of the Australia poet,” club president Len Banks said.

While Banjo Paterson’s works do appear on the NSW Board of Studies HSC’s prescribed text list, the choice of picking the poet’s works is up to individual schools.

For students in kindergarten to year 10, Banjo’s works do not appear on the suggested list of reading materials.

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Mr Banks said he grew up in a generation that could recite a number of Banjo’s poems by heart, and he was afraid younger generations could not do the same.

“They wouldn’t be learning it at home, unless they’ve got a poetry enthusiast at home it probably wouldn’t happen,” he said. While promoting the upcoming festival at last year’s Australian National Field Days, Mr Banks said around 80 per cent of young people he asked had not heard of Banjo Paterson.

Charles Sturt University English adjunct senior lecturer David Gilby said while Banjo’s poems had a place in Australian literature they were no more important than other poets.

“I think most people will be more familiar with Banjo than the works of [contemporary poets] Liam Ferney or Jordie Albiston,” he said.

Mr Gilby said there were trends in literature studies and Shakespeare was another author he felt was not represented enough in current school curriculums.

“I think Australia has moved away from that sentimental mentality [of Banjo’s poems],” he said.

“I think it’s an important view but it’s not the only view and not the most important view.”

nadine.morton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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