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Francis (Frank) Kenna (1865–1932)

Mr. Francis Kenna, poet, short story writer, journalist, and formerly a politician in the Queensland Parliament, died early yesterday morning, after a brief illness. Mr. Kenna had been a contributor of the "Courier" for several years, being in charge of "Sidelights" in the Saturday issue. About three weeks ago he became seriously ill, and entered a private hospital. Until two weeks ago he continued his work for the "Courier," and none of his colleagues realised that his end was so near, or that his illness was likely to prove fatal. He leaves a widow.

Mr. Kenna was born at Maryborough in 1865, and was educated at the local State school. He served for a time in the old Queensland Post and Telegraph Department, and, later, he qualified as a teacher in the Education Department. In the year 1902 he was returned to the State Parliament as member for Bowen, and served in four Parliaments, being a supporter of the Labour Party, and afterwards of the Kidston Government.

Before he entered Parliament Mr. Kenna was a well-known Queensland verse writer and journalist. As far back as 1895 he published his first volume of poems, entitled "Songs of a Season," and some years later he published another volume, entitled "Phases." He had also been an editor at one time of the Brisbane "Worker"; and some years ago he was a regular contributor to the Sydney "Bulletin" and to the old "Boomerang."

In his politics Mr. Kenna had a decided tendency towards complete independence; in fact, in later years, he was really an Independent. The same characteristic was apparent in his verse. In "Songs of a Season" there was a clear note of revolt against conventions; but "Phases" revealed greater contentment, and a tendency to treat in humorous mood the things that as a younger man he had viewed very seriously. Of recent years most of his verse, especially that contributed to the "Courier," was of the humorous vein, but occasionally he reached a high standard in some of his more serious verse. In one of the last verses he wrote for the "Courier," written during the turmoil of the election, he thoroughly expressed his real nature, his impatience of political strife, and his growing toleration for all shades of opinion.

When I am tired of making thoughts
That sometimes may be bitter,
I go outside and gain repute
In doing something fitter.

I potter round the flower beds,
And there I find revealing
A hundred little outstretched arms,
To me in mute appealing.

And this one wants another drink,
And this one wants uplifting,
And one complains it's too much cramped,
A seedling asks for shifting.

They speak to me in varied tongues,
For most of them are alien;
The sturdy ones are rough of voice,
The tender ones vocation.

I try to give them all a show —
Each one an opportunity,
To realise itself and grow
In freedom and immunity.

I sometimes think unto myself,
As back and forth I go,
That it would be a splendid world
If it were governed so.

The funeral, which was of a very quiet nature, moved from K. M. Smith's funeral parlour to the Lutwyche Cemetery during the afternoon. The chief mourners were Messrs. Vernon and Hubert Kenna (sons), and Mr. Kenna (brother). The service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev. Canon Garland. His Honour the Chief Justice (Hon. Sir James Blair, Kt.), who was an old personal friend of Mr. Kenna, but who was indisposed, was represented by his associate, Mr. Duncan Pelrson. Among others present were Messrs. F. Kennedy (Registrar of the Supreme Court), C. S. McGhie, J. S. Love, A. D. McKay, and J. F. Power.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Kenna, Francis (Frank) (1865–1932)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Frank Kenna, n.d.

Frank Kenna, n.d.

State Library of Queensland, 88164

Life Summary [details]


21 September, 1865
Maryborough, Queensland, Australia


23 June, 1932 (aged 66)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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