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Australia's 'Poet Lorikeet' passes away
23rd August 2005

By Wayne Richmond
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Denis Kevans, fondly known as "Australia's Poet Lorikeet", passed away this morning at 3.30am after suffering a massive heart attack last week.

Denis has written well over 1,000 poems, songs and satires and has won more than 50 prizes for poems and songs. His titles, if not his name, are a byword among the Australian people. Titles like The Slouch of Vietnam, The Great Prawn War, Shoulda Been A Champion, The Roar of the Crowd, City of Green and The Woodchip Man.

Denis at the Blackheath Folk Club in June this year.

Frank Hardy once said of him:

Denis Kevans is the alternative poet par excellence. He is neither published in fashionable editions, nor set in schools, yet he reaches a wider audience than most poets; his thoughtful open face is more widely known than the face of most other poets for he has recited face-to-face with over a hundred thousand people (apart from frequent recitals on alternative radio); his name does not warrant even a mention in the poetry section of The Oxford History of Australian Literature but he writes better than many poets whose names do; although his themes are usually the serious concerns of humanity, his comic and satirical poems are often uproariously funny (someone said: "Denis is the funniest poet since Dennis."); while he is often unashamedly propagandist, he always retains a high level of poetic quality and imagery.

I consider myself most fortunate to have had the honour of performing with Denis on a number of occasions, in particular a concert which Loosely Woven did with him and Sonia Bennett last year called 'Fogs is the problem!'. The resulting CDs and DVDs will be something that I will always treasure. In June this year some of us performed excerpts from the concert at Blackheath after which Denis showed us his beloved Valley of the Waters. Photos taken on this occasion can be found here on the Loosely Woven web site.

Denis and Sonia with Loosely Woven, October 2004.

Many years ago Denis wrote on the inside cover of my copy of his book 'Ah, white man, have you any sacred sites?':

What's the use of Freedom of Speech, if you don't have a thing to say?
Well, Denis had plenty to say and he has left us with a wonderful legacy of poems and songs which reflect his passion for things that really matter and act as a voice for those of us who share his passion but not his powerfully creative means of expression.

A particular favourite of mine:

The Beauty of the World

I saw the beauty of the world,
The fists of diamonds fall,
Where water jumped the gleaming rock,
High on the mountain wall;
They sparkled in the dazzling sun,
As down the wind they blew
I saw the beauty of the world,
But all I saw was you.

The honeyeater stretched her tongue
In the fluted crimson flower,
Her painted feathers rippling
In the thirsting midday hour;
She stole her children's honey,
And she sipped the blossom-dew,
I saw the beauty of the world,
But all I saw was you.

I saw you where the waterfall,
In silver tumbled down,
And the moon stood, gazing speechless,
At the long white wedding gown;
Unmarried still she wanders,
But she often comes to view,
I saw the beauty of the world,
But all I saw was you.

I saw a lizard gazing at
The rainbow in the mist,
Her leather lips were waving,
And her tail began to twist;
She capered round the clearing,
And she chanced a step or two,
I saw the beauty of the world,
But all I saw was you.

I caught the pride of lovely blooms,
Whose names were never known,
That jostle with the angry winds,
High on the mountain stone;
I saw in gargoyle mountain rocks,
The star flowers in a queue,
I saw the beauty of the world,
But all I saw was you.

Now walk towards me, singing,
From rocks where music springs,
Where the golden whistler's melody
In idle gladness rings;
Where blooms burst from the rocky cliffs
And the falcon streaks the blue,
I saw the beauty of the world,
But all I saw was you.

And when the beauty's vanished,
And in time I taste the dust,
And see the water trickling,
All bright with orange rust;
And my tears are gently shaking,
And my blood has turned to glue,
I will lose the beauty of the world,
But I will still have you.

Funeral Arrangements:

10.30am, Saturday 3rd September 2005
Leura Memorial Gardens
Lot 1 Kitchener Road, Leura

Followed by a wake from 1pm at:

Carrington Hotel
Katoomba Street

Kitchener Road runs north off the Great Western Highway (see map).

Train departs Central: 8.02am (arrives Leura at 9.56am)

Perhaps people driving might be willing to call in at Leura Station to see if there are people needing a lift to the Leura Gardens and onto Katoomba later.

Australia's 'Poet Lorikeet' passes away
Denis at the Chris Kempster Tribute (New Theatre, 30th May 2004)