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Les Murray

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Les Murray

Leslie Allan Murray was born October 17, 1938, in Bunyah, New South Wales, Australia. He attended the University of Sydney where he studied modern languages, worked as a translator, and served in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.

His recent collections include The Biplane Houses (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007); Poems the Size of Photographs (2004); Learning Human: Selected Poems (1998), which was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize; and Subhuman Redneck Poems, winner of the 1996 T. S. Eliot Prize. His many awards include the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry, awarded to him in 1999 on the recommendation of Ted Hughes.

He is also the author of two verse novels: The Boys Who Stole the Funeral (1992), and Fredy Neptune: A Novel in Verse (1999), which centers around the picaresque life of German-Australian sailor Friedrich Boettcher, a kind of Nordic hero who witnesses and records, in the demotic style, the foibles of his age.

About his work a reviewer for The Guardian wrote: "The great bulk of Murray's poetry [is] unlike anything else in the world of modern writing. It is above controversy, about modernism and traditionalism and remains a challenge to whatever is left of contemporary commitment to verse."

Murray has said that he has a "vital interest in giving utterance and form to hitherto unexpressed elements of Australian mind and character" while drawing inspiration from "Australian landscape, folklore, history, war, technology, deserts."

He was formerly the editor of Poetry Australia and is currently the editor of Quadrant Magazine. He has given readings, lectures and talks in Australia, Britain, Europe, and the United States. Murray resides in his native Bunyah.

by this poet

poem
In the World language, sometimes called
Airport Road, a thinks balloon with a gondola
under it is a symbol for speculation.

Thumbs down to ear and tongue:
World can be written and read, even painted
but not spoken. People use their own words.

Latin letters are in it for names, for e.g.
OK and H2SO4, for
poem
Fume-glossed, unbearably shrill,
this car is dilated with a glaze
that will vanish before standstill—

and here's the youth swimming in space
above his whiplash motorcycle:
quadriplegia shows him its propped face—

after, he begged video scenes
not display his soaking jeans,
urine that leathers would have hidden
poem

 

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