I was invited by a group of theatre lovers to lunch last week. The Glugs of Gosh is the name of a poem by Australian C J Dennis. First published in 1917, it eerily prefigures some of Dr Seuss’ work, but is definitely adult fare. It’s absurd, fantastic, satirical, and pokes fun at pretension, greed, and irresponsibility. Well … a poem for all times really.
However the theatre lovers who have taken their name from Dennis’ work have met every month for years and years. The group originated in Sydney, and established itself with a Brisbane chapter some 15 years ago. The guest of the day … me last week … has to sing for their supper. I did so and talked about storytelling, and what had brought me to a place where I could indulge my love of spinning yarns … aka acting. It was a lovely hour or two spent in the outdoor room of the Kookaburra Café in Paddington under the arms of a big Jacaranda tree, currently in full bloom.
The guest also gets to read a passage from the poem, and to autograph the group’s own copy. It’s well-worn by now and is graced by signatures of many well-known figures from the Australian theatre and entertainment industry. In my research into the poem I came across some images taken from earlier editions; indeed I think it’s not currently in print. However you can read it at Project Guntenburg.
One illustration that moved me greatly was the one that accompanies this posting … the cover of an edition ‘for the trenches.’ Yes they read poetry in WWI as we are led to believe. I wonder whether some comfort is still derived from stories read behind lines that still stretch far too far in our contemporary world.