Monday, October 15, 2012

Our Max

Max and his wife Jean

Anyone who has had lived in Adelaide has surely read Max Fatchen's work, much of which was published in the Advertiser.  Max wrote on major events, the 1956 River Murray floods, the first atomic bomb at Maralinga as well as everyday observations.  It is a sad day as we say goodbye to one of the states most iconic writers.

Max Fatchen was born in 1921,  growing up on the family farm of 200 acre in the Angle Vale area.  Max however had a way with words and instead of tilling the land for a living he became a journalist, writer and poet.  At the age of seven he began to write poems, which he continued throughout his life.  He published 27 books many for children. 

Max was awarded an Order of Australia for literature in 1991, an Advance Australia award for literature and a Walkely award for journalism in 1996.

He said of writing "Writing is living, dreaming, creating new worlds, inventing characters and bringing them to life for other people to enjoy and read.  My pen is always hand.  I watch and listen and my mind brings me rhymes and rhythms and my typewriter beats them out.

He never forgot where he came from and where he lived.  In 1988 he wrote this poem at the opening of the new council office at the City of Munno Para.

My Munno Para

The fields that held their golden crops and knew the patient plough
have changed in times relentless course with houses standing now.
The rolling sound of wagon wheels and dusting, roiling teams
Are ghosts upon the living plain, belonging to its deams.
Yet, in a thousand minutes read on long departed dates,
We hear again old Councillors in windy, wise debates,
With lungs so full of earnest air, it made the listener faint....
Ratepayers lurking everywhere and full of loud complaint.
The dogs were howling in the pound, the sheep and cattle strayed
And would the money go around with half the roads unmade?
They burned indeed the midnight oil and pondered at the cost
And no-one blessed them for their toil, or motions passed or lost.
But, there another road was made and well the tongue might utter
The glory of the bitumen, the beauty of the gutter,
Communal halls for local glee and supper rooms to brew,
And, from the rangers to the sea, our Munno Para grew.
The old trees stood and fresh trees grew with landscapes rearranged,
The blending of the old and new and so our scene has changed.
We've met the challenge of the days and bravely taken chances
Resisting Gawler's winning ways, Elizabeth's bold glances.
The people came from many lands and so each culture blends.
Society has many strands and each its fibre lends
To weave a pattern, a design that makes the fabric whole
So Munno Para, year by year, has found its civic soul.
Let Smithfield Creek in splendour flow through gully and through town
To wear upon its modest bank, fair Munno Para's crown
And may our happiness increase with all that thus entailed...
The municipal masterpiece I now declare unveiled.

Max is survived his three children, six grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
Rest in Peace Max, we will miss your take on life through the words that you write.

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