What I am reading: the poetry of Les Murray

My Master of Arts in Creative Writing course requires quite a deal of reading as well as the writing assignments. Last term I had to write a research paper on a well known poet. The focus had to be half on the life of the poet with the balance being an analysis of the poet’s work.

I chose to study the Australian poet Les Murray. He is regarded internationally as one of the most talented poets currently writing in English. He is arguably regarded by many as Australia’s best poet. That is a big claim and, having read fair slabs of his poetry in recent weeks, I would have to concur.

I found it challenging to obtain a true grasp of the scope of Murray’s poetry. It is so vast, so broad in subject matter and he has probably been Australian’s most prolific poet to date. It is hard to summarise and categorize such an extensive oeuvre. Despite this difficulty, some themes do stand out. It can be said without contradiction that his poetry is rich and amazingly diverse.

He is also acknowledged as a master of linguistic dexterity, playing with words like a child building a magnificent structure with simple toy blocks. I believe that Les Murray is the quintessential Australian landscape poet. Other poets may be able to capture the essence of the Australian landscape, but none have been able to do this on a consistent basis over such a length of time and in so many poems.


Murray, L. and Lehmann, G, 1965, The Ilex Tree. ANU Press, Canberra.

Murray, Les, 1983, The People’s Otherworld. Angus and Robertson, Sydney

Murray, Les, 1987, The Daylight Moon. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

Murray, Les, 1996, Subhuman Redneck Poems. Duffy and Snellgrove, Potts Point.

Murray, Les, 1998,  New Selected Poems. Duffy and Snellgrove, Potts Point.


2 Responses to “What I am reading: the poetry of Les Murray”

  1. […] I wrote about having read a great deal of the poetry of the Australian poet Les Murray. This was in preparation for writing a research paper for one of the units I am studying for my […]

  2. […] What I am reading: the poetry of Les Murray – this includes a short bibliography of books consulted […]