Poet and Novelist



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The Shift to Writing

My first book was written while I was again involved in agricultural work. A desk job this time. I wrote most of that book by hand on my work desk at the Department of Agriculture, hiding the activity behind a mountainous green typewriter. One day the two bosses came in with the Director of the Department, who asked me what I did. I shoved my poetry aside and gave several minutes of the expected rhetoric and the Director nodded and left satisfied. One of the bosses lingered just long enough to bend over and whisper to me: great bullshit. Then he looked at my half-hidden writing, grinned at me and said: carry on.


I did. Within a few years I was onto my second book. I built myself a log cabin with a stone fireplace and wrote in there for 10 years. Completed five books, one play and one unpublished ms in that time. It was fairly austere and for one purpose only, it was often over 35 degrees in summer and coldish but for the fire in winter... and now it's neglected I suppose, in a corner of a property I sold several years ago. Inside that shack I discovered the huge imaginative spaces of poetry and the deep urgency of creating it. 


During the next years I established the routine I would keep up until 2008: I wrote and did paid work in tandem, usually lecturing in creative writing. My books won awards and gained national and then international attention. Two of my books won major international prizes in London and I was feted to attend the award ceremonies and tour Britain reading my work. Over the years I have toured and read, lectured, etc, on several continents. From the late 70s through to 1991 I was married to Helena and we had a son - Brendan. Our social life was perhaps too focussed on poetry and writing (I have written novels too, and taught fiction writing) and in 1992, with the marriage over, I met and in a year or so married Meredith. I thereby inherited a daughter Ceridwen - whose name, by complete chance, is the Welsh naming of the Goddess of Poetry. 


In 1998 my New and Selected Poems was due for release just after we moved Melbourne. Since then I have lived here and continued publication. Since 1983 I have lectured in poetry and fiction and for a brief time, Australian Literature. Then at the very end of 2008 I resigned from the University of Melbourne and for the first time sat down to that much dreamt-of life... of writing full-time. I read, I write and I cook. Brendan and Ceri live in Melbourne and have left us to the peace of apartment life. Meredith is my hard-working partner and is happy to support my next stage of writing, for which I thank her!


Now, in 2016, I have just published my third novel Waiting. And I am working on two more manuscripts. 

For more information on my books, please refer to the Home page and the Books page on this site.

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