Sunday, March 12, 2006

Les Murray

I read the Peter Alexander biography of Les Murray while on my summer vacation at the end of 2005 - a summary of the approach is here and an alternative Guardian review here. Murray had a troubled childhood with a violent father and a difficult time at high school because of teasing. He was sadistic, a bit of a sook and terrified of female sexuality. Eventually he embraced Catholicism. Murray went to Sydney University where, despite considerable linguistic and literary skills, he failed to graduate. Eventually he married, had children and went on to became perhaps Australia's most important contemporary poet and a poet of international importance. There is something distinctively Australian about all his writings and his character - I would bet some Brits like him because he confirms erroneous caricatures of what it means to be Aussi.

The Alexander biblography is 'warts and all' - Murray did not emerge as a particularly attractive character though he was distinctive and his intellectual honesty is apparent. As he has aged Murray mellowed but suffered serious depression and medical problems that he seems now to have dealt with. He now lives where he grew up on his Bunyah property near Taree, in NSW.

There are substantial web resources on Murray.

(i) A website, attributed to him, that seems prepared by an agent here.
(ii) CAE course notes on his work that Murray recommends here.
(iii) A collection of poems online here.

I have posted a favourite Murray poem below.

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