Milking creativity from rural life

DAIRY farming in Panmure might not seem like the ideal subject matter for poetry, but Brendan Ryan has been proving otherwise.

Nominated this year for the state premier’s literary prize for poetry, Ryan has released four collections of his work, much of which has been inspired by his large family and his formative years on the farm.

Now a teacher in Geelong, Ryan said he figured out early on that farming wasn’t for him, but realised later on that it was definitely still a part of him.

“I left Panmure when I was 21 — I think I was around about 12 or 13 when I decided I was not going to be a farmer,” he explained.

“I think you know early on — it’s black and white whether you want to (be a farmer) or not.

“When (I’m driving down from Geelong and I) get to about Terang I feel a sense of home. 

“I know this place like the back of my hand and, whether I like it or not, it’s a place I belong.

“I love walking around looking at the changes. It’s like looking back at your childhood or feeling a connection to a piece of dirt or land that you know very well.

“I love the landscape and I still like going back there, but I couldn’t milk seven days a week.”

Ryan said he returned home every three months or so to see his family and find new inspiration — many a poem of his has been written or started while walking around a paddock on the family farm.

“I like to write about (things) I can’t get out of my head and then it gets it out,” he said.

“But one of the reasons I write a lot of poetry about (farming life) is because there weren’t many people writing poems about dairy farmers when I started writing.

“And the (poems) about the country seemed to have lasting value — they were the ones people connected to.

“Dairy farming isn’t exactly a clean lifestyle and it’s hard but there’s something about it.”

Ryan will be at the Warr-nambool Library tonight reading poetry and telling stories from 7.30pm.


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