May 19th, 2014 | 'Banjo' Paterson, C. J. Dennis, Camping, Family holidays, Photos, Poems for children, Sailing, Snow, Songs
Well, the launch of “‘The Billy Died With Its Boots On’ and Other Australian Verse” was held on Sunday, and I’ve had time to come down to earth and reflect upon it all.
Without doubt, it was a great success. Walker Books, the publisher, and Readings bookshop, the venue, had done a great job to together put on a fine display. It was absolutely magical to see multiple copies of the book – a wall of “Billys” – in a grand crescent at the back counter.
I was thrilled that so many people turned up to support me. Members of my family were there (of course), old friends, new friends, friends from sailing, skiing and bushwalking, friends from work, children’s writers, bush poets and reciters, and others.
Geoffrey Graham did a fine job launching the book and acting as master of ceremonies, as I knew he would. He also said some very kind things about me, for which I am truly grateful.
Edel Wignell had been inspired to write a poem about the book, which she read. Edel has been a tremendous support to me in recent years, and it was wonderful to have her contributing to the launch in this way.
Another friend, songwriter and musician Maggie Somerville, had been inspired to write a melody to accompany “The Sash” (the poem that tells the story of Ned Kelly’s rescue of the drowning Richard Shelton from Hughes Creek in Avenel) which she sang to round off proceedings, accompanied by yet another friend, Marie Butler, on accordion. It was a wonderful way to finish the afternoon.
What was particularly gratifying, of course, was the number of people who wished to buy a copy of the book afterwards. No, I didn’t develop writer’s cramp but, yet, I was certainly at risk of doing so!
Thank you again to everybody involved in making the afternoon such a memorable success. This book really is the distillation of a lifetime of writing. There were many times when I doubted if it would ever happen. Dreams do come true!