‘Rodeo Days’ a video poem by Marie Craven

Video, voice, words: Marie Craven
Music: Paul Foster

Rodeo Days is about my Australian ancestry and identity, employing archival footage of 20th century rural life, given vibrant expression in a hybrid of experimental film, spoken word and music video. It is one of many internet collaborations over more than a decade with electronic music producer, Paul Foster, in Wales.

My father and his brothers and sisters lived through desperate poverty during a childhood in the Depression-era of the 1930s. Their father abandoned the family, leaving their mother to take care of all six children alone and without work. As the boys reached early adulthood, they took to the rodeo circuit, travelling wide distances between events, a life on the road. Talented horsemen, they became well-known as rodeo champions.

Rodeo was powerfully enticing to poor country men, for its promise of status they were sorely lacking, and because of the money on offer. Prizes at rodeo events were sometimes 20 times the average wage for a rural worker. In the 1930s, crowds at these events could number up to 65,000 people. Newspaper reports at the time record the many broken bones for those rough riders, and worse. An oft-repeated family story recalls my uncle riding buck-jumpers with a broken arm in plaster.

The heroism of these men who were otherwise in the lowest strata of workers in society, was sometimes accompanied by alcoholism and family violence. Rodeo Days brings together what I experienced of family life in my childhood, my father’s memories of his rodeo days, and impressions about the history of anglo-Australian society and my place in it.

 – Marie Craven

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Marie Craven called Melbourne home for most of her life, before relocating to Queensland in 2002. She has been making short films for 35 years, exhibiting extensively at international festivals and events, and gathering many awards. Over the past five years she has released over 60 video poems, often made via internet collaboration with poets and other artists around the world. She is co-editor of Moving Poems, the world’s major website for video poetry. In late 2019 she will be featured artist at the Athens International Video Poetry Festival, and presenting programs in Croatia and Ireland. (mariecraven.net)

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