Libby Hathorn presents Poets of Australia - C.J Dennis

Students will explore well known Australian poet C.J Dennis. Students will listen and respond to his various poems and gain an understanding of the writing style from that era. The activities will culminate in the students writing their own poem inspired by C.J Dennis which will then be placed into a class book. Students will also learn and recite a verse from a well-known C.J Dennis poem. Each Activity has a duration of 30-40 min sessions.
Stimulus #1: 
State Library of NSW presents Libby Hathorn's Poets of Australia: C.J. Dennis
Stimulus #2: 
C.J. Dennis, poet - portrait, n.d. / Monteath, Melb.
Stimulus #3: 
C.J. Dennis, [ca. 1910] / [comic portraits by unknown photographer]
Stimulus #4: 
Freeman Studio, Sydney - studio portraits, ca. 1874-1908
Stimulus #5: 
Volume 123: Angus & Robertson manuscripts by C.J. Dennis - Doreen, Glugs, Digger, 1917-1919
Stimulus #6: 
Volume 122: Angus & Robertson manuscripts by C.J. Dennis - The Glugs of Gosh

Featured content

The first of a series of 3 films exploring the work and life of C J Dennis and his contribution to Australia's literary heritage. Featuring original manuscripts and artefacts from the State Library of NSW, the film has been written and narrated by well know poet and author Libby Hathorn for use in primary and secondary schools.

State Library of NSW presents Libby Hathorn's Poets of Australia: C.J. Dennis

Text type

  • Narrative: poetry

Background notes for teachers

Learning intention

Students are learning:

  • To think in ways that are imaginative, creative, interpretive and critical

Success criteria

Students will be successful when they can:

  • Recognise how writing styles and language have changed over time
  • Learn and recite part of a C.J Dennis poem
  • Create a poem in the style of C.J Dennis

Background information:

C.J Dennis was born Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis in South Australia on 7th September, 1876 and died in 1938. During his time at Gladstone Primary School, C.J Dennis edited all three issues of the Weary Weekly. He also contributed to Interesting Scraps while a student at Christian Brother's College, Adelaide.

Alongside Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, C.J Dennis is often considered among Australia's three most famous poets and is known for his humorous poems. He was inspired by the landscape in country South Australia when he wrote about the tough, laconic people of the Australian bush. Over the years, C.J Dennis had over 4000 pieces of prose and poetry published and by 1917 had become the richest poet in Australia.

Some of his most well-known works include The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke, The Glugs of Gosh, The Triantiwontigongolope and Hist! The Sentimental Bloke was a massive success due to the wide appeal of its sentiment and humour and its simple love story. It is this poem which helped to build C.J Dennis's reputation as a poet.

Student Activities

The poetry of C.J Dennis

Students learn about the poetry of C.J Dennis, and learn to recite a famous poem.

Number of set tasks: 2

Publishing Poetry

Recalling what they have learnt about C.J Dennis, students create their own poetry to feature in a class newspaper.

Number of set tasks: 1

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum: English K-10

A student:

  • uses an increasing range of skills, strategies and knowledge to fluently read, view and comprehend a range of texts on increasingly challenging topics in different media and technologies EN2-4A
  • identifies the effect of purpose and audience on spoken texts, distinguishes between different forms of English and identifies organisational patterns and features EN2-6B
  • thinks imaginatively, creatively and interpretively about information, ideas and texts when responding to and composing texts EN2-10C



Develop and apply contextual knowledge

  • draw on experiences, knowledge of the topic or context to work out the meaning of unknown words

Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • identify and explain language features of texts from earlier times and compare with the vocabulary, images, layout and content of contemporary texts (ACELY1686)


Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • identify organisational patterns and language features of spoken texts appropriate to a range of purposes


Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • identify creative language features in imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that contribute to engagement
  • identify and discuss how vocabulary establishes setting and atmosphere

Respond to and compose texts

  • respond to a range of texts, e.g. through role-play or drama, for pleasure and enjoyment, and express thoughtful conclusions about those texts

In each year of Stage 2, students must study examples of:

  • spoken texts
  • print texts

Students in K-6 must read, listen to and view a variety of texts that are appropriate to their needs, interests and abilities.

Across the stage, the selection must give students experiences of:

  • Texts which are widely regarded as quality literature
  • Widely defined Australian literature, including texts that give insights into Aboriginal experiences in Australia
  • Wide range of literary texts, including poetry, drama scripts, prose fiction and picture books

Learning across the curriculum

  • Civics and citizenship