March 1, 2016
Modern Day Poet
Rupert McCall has captured the hearts and souls of people all over Australia and beyond with his moving poetry. We caught up with the talented poet, writer and presenter to discover a little more about the inspiration behind his magic.
It’s not surprising to hear Rupert McCall has been likened to iconic Australian poet Banjo Patterson, in fact, it was one of Banjo’s iconic poems – A Bush Christmas that sparked Rupert’s interest in storytelling as a young boy.
“I remember reading a couple of his poems in grade five and they really lit a spark in me and introduced me to the great storytelling that exists in this country,” says Rupert.
However, it wasn’t until Rupert was a young law graduate that he decided to leave his short-lived stint in the legal profession and follow his passion for poetry.
“I was a fully qualified solicitor but I knew my heart lay in writing,” says Rupert. “At the time I was 23 years old, 10 foot tall and bulletproof and the decision seems bigger now than what it was back then, it was an interesting phone call to my parents at the time to tell them my decision,” he laughs.
“But you have to trust your instincts, go with your passion and what is going to put a smile on your face. That’s the lesson I try to impress upon kids today.”
Rupert need not have worried about his decision, the talented writer and father-of-four went on to author six anthologies of verse that have collectively sold over 120,000 copies as well as carving a successful career in radio and television, presenting on Channel 7’s Great South East, 4BC’s Sports Today program and Channel Nine’s Weekend Extra.
So how did he get his first big break?
“I actually penned some of my first poems during the early days of my career as an articles clerk, when I had lots of time waiting around to file documents,” says Rupert.
“I had enough work to write my first book, Rhymes Idols & Shenanigans in 1993 and I had to beg and borrow the money to self publish, but the book went very well and really consolidated my decision to leave law and follow this path.”
It was the first of many books to follow including Book Antiqua, on the way to somewhere, Stories for the Old Man, Green & Gold Malaria, Slops Props and Goosestep Flavoured Lifesavers, all of which were best sellers. In fact, Green & Gold Malaria sold 50,000 copies across Australia.
“This book was named after a poem I wrote for Australia Day in 1995. A lot of my previous work was state proud and Queensland centric but I needed something to connect with a national audience and my version of Australian pride. I was very proud of it,” he says.
With the early poems I was just writing for the love of it, I had no inclination it could become a career.”
Although Rupert’s first love is writing, he is also a seasoned presenter and loves nothing more than the thrill of a live audience.
“It’s pretty nerve wracking, although I’m getting better at converting the nerves into positive energy,” he says.
“The best thing about it is when you have written something powerful that really connects with the heart and soul of an audience, you feel the spark and appreciation that’s flowing from one mind to another, and the audience is lifted by your words, it’s like a magician pulling off a magic trick. I find it extremely satisfying and rewarding.”
But it’s not just his writing and presenting skills that Rupert is renowned for, it’s his special poetic tributes that make him truly unique, inspiring standing ovations from Perth in Australia to Palm Springs in America with his spine-tingling delivery.
“Some of my favourite moments in my career include the honour of being asked to open the Dawn Service in Gallipoli with my poem Ninety Years Ago in 2005, it was very special. Those assignments come with a great responsibility to tell the story well.
“Reciting A Firefighter’s Dream to pay tribute to the firefighters at Ground Zero on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was another big moment. It was very humbling to think I could write something that would resonate with people on the other side of the world. That connection with the firefighters became a great friendship.
You have to trust your instincts, go with your passion and what is going to put a smile on your face.”
“Writing and reciting tributes to sporting greats like Roger Federer and Rod Laver when both those guys were in the room was pretty amazing and writing The Crocodiles are Crying to be read at Steve Irwin’s memorial was another proud moment. The gravity of the moment you find yourself writing something that connects with Steve Irwin is pretty special.”
So where does his inspiration come from? How does he masterfully piece the words together to create his magic I ask?
“You digest the inspiration and you tick it over in your heart and soul and crack it open and find an angle in the piece. It’s so important to tell a story,” he shares.
“You look for the rhythm, you find the way you are going to tell it. Once I’ve cracked it open I’m on a roll and at that point I might write a fair bit in one session and then come back to polish it and fine tune it later. It’s important to leave a message too.
“It was never like I decided the way I was going to write, it wasn’t a conscious decision. With the early poems I was just writing for the love of it, I had no inclination it could become a career. It has evolved and improved as you would expect with anyone over 20-plus years.
“My style is connecting with the heart and delivering a message that inspires and leaves people feeling good about themselves.”
We’re so glad you followed your heart Rupert, so you could connect with ours.