Excerpt from the Introduction:

You will chuckle, you will shed a tear, you may even feel challenged as you read through these poems which express a wide range of emotions as real life events are put into verse; and with some you will probably empathise as they describe similar events and situations from your own life.

Tom Chapman lived a significant part of his early life on the rural fringe of Melbourne on a small family poultry farm. Such areas have long since been swallowed up by suburbia, but from those times (and others), ALONG THE WAY, there were many precious personal memories, some of which are shared in this anthology.



The history of Australia has been documented, partly, by the poets who wrote, or just spoke, to share their thoughts around the campfire, through the Bulletin and other publications, and through volumes of published poetry. The tradition of bush poetry has not become a static point in our history, but has developed into an art form that links our developing history with the modern day. Tom Chapman has shown awareness of this history and of other poetic forms and worked to combine the two.

Each year in Tamworth the various bush poetry competitions and performances are always well attended, by the authors and those wanting to be delighted by them. I have always enjoyed being asked to watch and assist by adjudicating some of this work each year, since moving to Tamworth, because we get an opportunity to see such a range of work, and I am glad that the Country Music Festival includes more than just country music so that more people can appreciate the talent that is still thriving in country areas today.

When Tom asked me to write a foreword to his volume of poems I was excited, delighted and felt great trepidation. I had come across Tom as an artisan who had always cared for my daughter's flute when it needed repair, and I knew he would not do anything by halves, so I am thrilled that he gave me the honour of reading an early version of the publication and being able to comment on it.

The poems in the volume show a lifetime of experience of people and incidents. The warmth that shines out of Tom, his highs, his lows and the people he has encountered in his life, spring out of the pages in a lovely rambling collection of poems.

What an enjoyable experience getting to know Tom a little better as he has pulled this collection together. Tom has always appeared to be a man of care and consideration in the work he does and it has been a pleasure to share cups of tea and listen to him read his poems, and tell the stories that surround them, on winter afternoons.

Tom has obviously had fun trying different styles of poetry as the mood to write has taken him on various occasions over the years. Some of his pieces have such a beautiful neat rhythm that they are flawless in the scansion of their poetic perfection, while others have been allowed to run free and ignore the constraints to allow him to just tell us the story. He has played with bush poetry, sonnet, free verse, humour, sadness, melancholy, and joy. The order of the poems in the book takes the reader on a gentle rollercoaster ride around Tom's delightful mind.

I particularly commend the reader to the poem "The Artisan", as this is the picture I first saw of Tom himself when he was regularly servicing my daughter's flute. The work was always done when he said it would be; always done perfectly with the great care of an artisan; and never charging as much as I am sure his time was really worth, because his interest was in doing the job well.

The way Tom has written a little bit about each poem for background is a nice touch, but I think there is almost more of a story in what Tom doesn't say. I hope you gain as much joy from the insight of this lovely man as I have in reading and studying the work and the man behind it.

Most importantly, this work is another piece of Australian history. Here is someone with quiet talent who is prepared to take a risk and share his loves and thoughts with others while using it to help a worthy cause. What a delightful and productive reason to put them together for public viewing rather than just keeping his efforts to be handed around his family and friends.

I'm sure that anyone reading this volume will be as touched by Tom's gentle and generous spirit as I have been. Sit down with a cup of tea with Tom and immerse yourself in the pleasure that reading this volume is sure to give you.

Robyn Christmas: LTCL, ATCL
July 2007