Poetic justice for Henry Kendall
THE life of one of Australia's major poets who wrote at least 50 of his works while employed as a solicitor's clerk in Grafton, will be celebrated permanently at a local cafe.
The poet Henry Kendall whose poem Bluebells was once mandatory reading for Australian school students, worked in an office in Prince St, Grafton for several years in the early 1860s.
The solicitor's office is now the site of the Heart and Soul Wholefoods Cafe, which is also where Grafton's First Wednesday Book Club holds its monthly meetings.
The club's founder Nigel Dawe uncovered Kendall's connection with the cafe during his research into Kendall's time in Grafton.
Excited by his discovery, on Thursday he unveiled a memorial to the poet.
"Henry Kendall was once a poet every Australian knew about and read,” he said. "In recent times it seems he has faded from our memories.
"Hopefully what we've done here will bring him back out of the shadows.”
Mr Dawe said Kendall's time in Grafton was not widely recognised.
"There's a little plaque in the arcade between Shoppingworld and the main street and some stuff in Schaeffer House, but that's about it,” he said.
"He's a major Australia poet, who loved the Clarence region and spent his most productive years here.”
Mr Dawe thanked fellow book club member Liza Bloomer for designing the plaque which will hang on a wall in the cafe.
"Liza's done an outstanding job,” he said. "It looks beautiful and does credit to Kendall and his achievements.”
In addition to the plaque, the Clarence River Historical Society will also put together a display of its artefacts and a history of Kendall's time in Grafton.
Society member Pat James was at the dedication of the plaque on Thursday.
She said it was important to remember Kendall.
"He brings to us a sense of what we were and where we all come from as people from Grafton,” she said.
"When he lived here, Grafton was a smaller place with the bush and forest growing right up close to town.
"In Kendall's poetry you get that feeling of the closeness of the bush and nature.
"He had a great love of the Clarence and you can feel in his words what it was like to live here in those times.”