The collaboration between Max Fatchen and Penny Davies & Roger Ilott began in 2001, when Penny & Roger heard Ian McNamara read “Call It Flamin’ Hot” on ABC Radio’s ‘Australia All Over’ one Sunday. They contacted him to ask if they could turn the poem into a song. Max was so pleased with the idea that he sent along a few more poems that “sang” to him. From then on the songs began to proliferate and Max was thrilled that some of his poems found a new audience through music.
As Ian McNamara says “Max’s poems ‘sing’ to me, about love of country, especially his beloved South Australia……… - and he has made an enormous contribution to a Sunday morning programme, for which we and the listeners are extremely grateful.”
Max Fatchen was a journalist for the majority of his life, working for the Adelaide Advertiser in South Australia. He has written 20 books for children; his novels appear in seven countries and his poetry throughout the English-speaking world. Three of his books have received commendation in the Children's Book of the Year Award. He received the Order of Australia in 1980, the Advance Australia Award for literature in 1991, the Walkley Award for journalism in 1996, the Primary English Teaching Associations Award for children's poetry in 1996 and the SA Great Award for Literature in 1999 and the 2003 Centenary of Federation Medal for service to the community in journalism, poetry and writing for children. He was made Inaugural Life Member of SA Writers Centre in 2004 for long years of support, encouragement, and ambassadorship for the Centre.
WATERBAG BALLADS was completed just a few days after Max wrote his final column for the Advertiser (at the age of 92), and only a few days before Max died. He had heard all the songs in their final form and was full of enthusiasm for “my new career as a songwriter”. His work is full of warmth and humour and an almost child-like joy.
Penny Davies & Roger Ilott have been writing and singing together since the early 1980’s. They are known also for their long musical collaboration with the Queensland poet Bill Scott. Their writing relationship with Max Fatchen has been both pleasurable and creatively fulfilling. He became a much loved friend and a creative muse.
Max will be missed around the world; but here in Australia – and particularly in South Australia - there will be a huge gap in our literature that only Max could fill.
Penny and Roger hope these songs will bring Max’s work to many more people around the country and around the world.