Les Murray is Australia's leading poet and one of the greatest contemporary poets writing in English. His work has been published in ten languages.
Les Murray has won many literary awards, including the Grace Leven Prize (1980 and 1990), the Petrarch Prize (1995), and the prestigious TS Eliot Award (1996). In 1999 he was awarded the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry on the recommendation of Ted Hughes.
For an overview of Les Murray's work and significance from 1965-1994, please refer to that provided by The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature:
A selection of Les Murray's poems short enough for comfortable on-sceen reading forms the heart of this site:
April 2010 saw the Australian publication of Taller When Prone, Les Murray's latest poetry volume (Black Inc.). UK publication followed in November 2010 (Carcanet), and the USA in March 2011 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). In his review for The Monthly, Clive James describes the work as written from "the majesty of his years and accomplishments...The way he can register, in words nobody else would quite choose, a perception nobody else could quite have, is at the centre of his art, ensuring almost infallibly that a poem will work like a lucky charm for as long as he pours in the images."
The Biplane Houses, Les Murray's preceding original collection, was published in 2006. The Poetry Book Society praised the collection's "gargantuan appetite for language", its "acrobatic dance in all forms of expression", its richness and its diversity. "Historically and geographically, its reach is immense ... His concernsthe history of white settlement and indigenous ancestry; the rural and the urban; disinheritance; familyare addressed in poems that range from the polemical and punning to the lyrical and mythic." (Autumn Bulletin 2006, No. 210). William Wootten, in his review for The Guardian, praised the collection's stylistic variety.
A new and updated edition of Killing the Black Dog was published in October 2009 (Australia, Black Inc.)
The new editions include poems published between 1965 and 2002, adding Conscious and Verbal and Poems the Size of Photographs to the list of source titles. The Australian edition is particularly recommended, as it comes with a CD recording of Les Murray reading 55 of the poems.
The Full Dress was published in 2002: 'this book is an encounter between works of art held by the National Gallery of Australia and poems or parts of poems from my forty years of writing ... It's as if my life's work and I went on a meander through the gallery's spaces, speaking and listening to the art on display there.' (Les Murray)
More on The Full Dress
Les Murray: A Life in Progress by Peter Alexander was published in 2000 by the Oxford University Press. Over 3500 copies were sold in the first three days. The author has kindly given permission for three substantial extracts to appear on this site.
A good quality overview of the poet's life is also available.
In 2001 The National Portait Gallery, Canberra, acquired David Naseby's recent portrait of Les Murray:
Hell and After (June 2005) is a prequel to Fivefathers, which features Australian poets active from the 1930s to the 1960s. This "volume of epitomes" features work by "four early English-language poets of Australia", reaching as far back to the middle of the nineteenth century.
In addition to the general introduction by Les Murray (above) the book contains biographical introductions to each of the four poets.
During a visit to Sweden in 2007 Les Murray recorded Translations from Nature. The CD comprises 36 of the 40 poems from the 1992 sequence Presence: Translations From the Natural World and is available from Edition Rugerup and from Amazon.co.uk.
The Poetry Archive, a UK-based initiative headed by Andrew Motion, recorded Les Murray in 2001. The CD, available from the Poetry Bookshop, includes 55 poems, seven of which may be listened to free online: The Tin Wash Dish, Bats' Ultrasound, The Last Hellos, The Annals of Sheer, The Pay for Fosterage, The Climax of Factory Farming and The Meaning of Existence.
'A collection of brief, humourous and insightful poems ... An accessible and beautiful book' The Poetry Book Society.