Extracts from the launch of Small Town Soundtrack
Warrnambool Books Dec 2015 by E A Gleeson
“ The book is divided into four sections one of which is called Towns of the Mt Noorat Football League. What an enormous thrill it was to know every district with which this section dealt …not just in terms of geography but also in concept.
We know there are no mansions in Ecklin and we know there are people cutting back blackberry amongst the ferns, just as many of us have perhaps waited for a thousand cows at Occupation Lane. This is poetry with an eye for detail and a voice for truth. We know the country we’re being driven through; Baxter country, Kenna country. Coolahan country, just as we know how legal teams have chipped away at this country or as in the poem Glenormiston why a waterway was named Murdering Gully. We know it but perhaps it is Brendan Ryan’s poetic slant, his particular phrasing, his unmistakable lexicon that makes us revisit with more astute eyes and ears..………
The Australian poet Philip Hodgins has long been considered one of Australia’s most significant rural poets. While he was instrumental in reclaiming rural life as a source of contemporary Australian poetry, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this work ended with his death in the mid 1990s.
It is Brendan Ryan who has taken the baton, Ryan, like Hodgins, does not glorify farming life or create an idealistic romantic view of living in the country. Ryan tells it as it is and uses the tools of poetry to convey moments, some of which are raw and brutal, others are poignant and moving. Either way this is poetry that has been created with respect and humanity. Both poets write of their characters with tenderness and humility. They write of the physicality of farming in ways that can be disturbing or exhilarating and those of who have lived the life know the sharpness of that knife edge.