Other Poets

Other Poets 

Sometimes on this site we feature poems by poets about whom very little is known, who published very little work, or who otherwise don't need a full article on this site.  This section provides a brief guide to some of those poets.  

(1) 'Vileyse' 

'Vileyse' was the pen name of a writer who contributed 8 or 9 articles to 'The Queenslander' in 1883, 5 of which were poems. From the text of the poems, we can conclude that the writer was a male, probably born in the UK, who seems to have been crossed in love. Two poems are republished on this site:  Redcliffe: Humpy Bong  and A Queensland Summer Night .  Both poems are early explorations of the local landscape, which suffer from a tendency to wander from the subject matter and to compare it to better known places or images. 'A Queensland Summer Night' was considered good enough to be anthologised in Stable and Kirwood's A Book of Queensland Verse, in 1924. 

(2) Lucille M. Quinlan

So far as I can tell, Lucille Quinlan only published two poems in a life of more than 90 years. She was born Mary Lucille Bloink in Victoria in 1901. She is one of the few poets on this site to have had the advantage of a university education, graduating with a first class degree in French in the early 1920s. She seems to have been interested in literature from an early age and published a number of freelance prose pieces in the late 1920s. Lucille married and relocated to North Queensland, where she and her husband worked for a while on Victor Kennedy's magazine Northern Affairs. She continued in North Queensland for a time, serving for a while as secretary for the local Campaign for the Abolition of Poverty. By the 1950s, she was in Bendigo and leading a campaign against the pasteurisation of milk. She published some local history books and children's literature in the 1960s, and was still apparently hale and active in the early 1990s. 

Of the two poems she published, one, North Queensland Lullabydeveloped a life of its own. It was anthologised at least twice, and set to music in the early 1950s. With the exception of one word, it is an almost perfect piece of its type.   

 (3) Peter Airey (1865-1980)

Peter Airey was a teacher, union organizer, local councillor, parliamentarian, government minister, farmer and investor. He raised nine children, but according to the literary website he found time to publish more than 600 literary works. Amazing.

He was borne in Lancashire, England, in 1865, and migrated with his family to Maryborough, Queensland, at the age of 10. By the age of 13, he became a pupil teacher, a position reserved for bright students, and began a career as a schoolteacher at 18, serving in schools throughout the State.

Airey became a union official, campaigning for better pay for teachers, and moved to state parliament in 1901. He was briefly leader of the parliamentary Labor party, and served as minister in various short lived state governments, rising to the position of treasurer in William Kidston’s government of 1908.

His parliamentary career ended in 1909. From then on, he earned a living through writing and his investments. He remained active in politics, as an anti-conscriptionist in the first world war, as one of the founders of Billy Hughes’ Nationalist Party in 1917, and on the Redland Shire Council. From 1921, he lived at Birkdale, on the outskirts of Brisbane.

Somehow, he found time to write. For more than 40 years, beginning in the 1880s, his poems and essays appeared, under his own name and a variety of pen-names,  in state based publications like The Queenslander, left wing newspapers like The Boomerang, and The Worker,  and mainstream magazines like The Bulletin. His serious work was influenced by his familiarity with German and French poets. But he also wrote a good many humorous and satirical pieces which show an original wit, facility with meter, and skill with rhyme. Airey died in 1950, at the then grand old age of 85.

During his Parliamentary career, the Bulletin called him the ‘Minister of Mines and the Muses’. It said the ‘Labour party has been fortunate in attracting many such men whose outstanding characteristic is integrity… men whose principles do not permit them to play false’.  Though it called his verses ‘of little poetic account’ it continued to publish his poems until the 1920s[1]. Certainly many lesser authors have published collection of their poems.  

The poem I have selected for this site came recommended by a reader. It first appeared , under the pen name ‘P. Flam’ in the Bulletin’s  ‘Aboriginalities’ page in 1916. This feature,  which ran from 1885 to 1960, contained light hearted snippets, poems and cartoons about Australia, particularly regional and rural subjects. Contributors to the page were known to exaggerate the truth in order to get published, and they became known as ‘Aboliars’[2]. That is the name of Airey’s poem, which links it to a long discontinued and unremembered term. But for images like ‘roasted crow and mustard’ and for the people you know who exaggerate everything they say,  it deserves to be read today.

 

[1] ‘M.M.M’ in the Bulletin Red Page, 28 April, 1904.

[2] See H.C. Baker, ‘Confessions of an Aboliar’ in The Bulletin, 21 April 1981, p32 He notes that eventually the term ‘Aboliar’ was applied to all regular contributors to the page.