By Mick Jensen
All Blacks poet John Bryan celebrates and immortalises sporting success in words and has used his framed poetry to support countless charities and causes around the country over the years.
A former Dunedin credit manager, the 68-year-old moved to Ashburton earlier this year and is a prolific writer of themed rhyming verse.
He writes, prints and frames his poems, a number of which are limited editions, and then passes them on to worthy causes to be sold or auctioned, or for others to do the same.
His latest gesture is local – the donation of 23 limited edition prints, marking the recent Steinlager series between the All Blacks and France – to Ashburton-raised Nikki Tyrrell, who suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis.
His poem uses two rhyming lines for each letter of “Steinlager”. It separately lists facts and figures from the series, including the All Blacks line-up.
Mr Bryan read about Ms Tyrrell’s cause, and the Givealittle page set up by her friend Kylie Curwood to raise money for overseas treatment, in Ashburton Courier, and thought “I can help”.
Kylie Curwood said she had been “blown away” by Mr Bryan’s generosity and called him “a one of a kind”.
For the last 11 years John Bryan has used his gift for words to celebrate New Zealand sporting success and to support charities.
Although rugby is his passion, he has penned poetry for sporting codes like softball, netball, bowls, football and many others as well.
He has received acknowledgement for poems sent to the Royal Family and penned lines for big businesses like Heineken.
“I penned my first All Blacks poem ahead of the 2007 World Cup in order to encourage the team. Although they were beaten by the French in the quarter finals, I later heard back from their marketing manager who thought what I’d written was something special and unique.
“The late Colin Meads read it as well and told me it was ‘bloody brilliant’.”
Inspired to continue, Mr Bryan has been very busy since and estimates he has framed around 5000 pieces.
He immortalised past All Blacks in his Men in Black series from 2008, delving deep into rugby history to produce facts and figures on players to go alongside his poem.
“I had the great grandson of the first All Black, James Allan, ring me up one day to get a copy.
“Players and families request copies and either make a donation to a charity or auction them off for a cause of their choice.”
Mr Bryan said people couldn’t believe he was doing this from the goodness of his own heart.
“For me life is not about money, but about people.
“I made a promise to my mum when she was dying of cancer that I would make her proud and that promise has spurred me on over the years.”
A recent poem on the Crusaders Super Rugby success has just been donated to the Salvation Army, and copies were collected by a grateful South Island senior manager last week.
“He offered to pay me, but I said go away and raise what you can with the poem, that’s enough for me.”
John Bryan has exclusively penned two more poems celebrating the Crusaders Super Rugby dominance and wants readers to make bids on them, with the proceeds going to Ashburton Salvation Army. There are just two prints each of the signed, limited edition poems available. Readers are asked to place their bids on a piece of paper with their name and contact details and to drop them off into the red and black box at the Ashburton Courier office, 199 Burnett Street, by August 31.