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Bruce Dawe

Widely recognized as Australia’s most popular poet, Bruce Dawe was born in Fitzroy, Victoria, in 1930, and was educated at Northcote High School, Melbourne. After leaving school at 16, he worked in various occupations (labourer, farmhand, clerk, sawmill-hand, gardener, and postman) before joining the RAAF in 1959. He left the RAAF in 1968 and began a teaching career at Downlands College, Toowoomba, in 1969. He holds 4 university degrees (B.A., M.Litt., M.A., Ph.D.) – all completed by part-time study.

He was appointed as Lecturer at the DDIAE in 1971, became a Senior Lecturer in 1980, and an Associate Professor following the status change to the University of Southern Queensland. He was awarded the inaugural DDIAE Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988. He retired from full-time teaching in 1993, and was appointed as the first Honorary Professor of USQ, in recognition of his contribution to the University. He has taught U3A classes ever since his retirement from full-time teaching.

Bruce Dawe was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by USQ for his services to literature in 1995. In 1996 he was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of New England. In 1997 Dr Dawe was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of New South Wales.

Bruce Dawe has published 12 books of poetry, one book of short stories, one book of essays, and has edited two other books. Many articles have been published dealing with his writings. Adjacent Worlds: A Literary Life of Bruce Dawe, written by Professor Ken Goodwin, was published by Longman Cheshire, in 1988. A study of his work written by Peter Kuch was published in the Oxford Australian Authors series in 1995. A further study of his work, Attuned to Alien Moonlight: the Poetry of Bruce Dawe, by Dennis Haskell, UQP, was published in 2002. There are also 12 study guides for students of his work written by various authors.

Bruce Dawe has received numerous awards for his poetry, including: the Ampol Arts Award for Creative Literature (1967), the Grace Leven Poetry Prize (1978), the Braille Book of the Year (1979), the Myer Poetry Prize (1965, 1968), the Patrick White Literary Award (1980), the Christopher Brennan Award (1984). In 1984, Dawe’s collected edition, Sometimes Gladness, was named by the National Book Council as one of the 10 best books published in Australia in the previous ten years and is presently in its 5th edition. In 1990, he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship of Rotary International. In 1992, Dawe was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) for his contribution to Australian literature. In 1997 he was awarded the Inaugural Philip Hodgins Medal for Literary Excellence. In 2000 he was awarded an Art Council Emeritus Writers Award for his long and outstanding contribution to Australian literature. In 2003 Dawe was awarded a Centenary Medal “for distinguished service to the arts through poetry”.

Bruce Dawe’s most recent books are: This Side of Silence: Poems, 1987-1990; Bruce Dawe: Essays and Opinions; Mortal Instruments: Poems, 1990-1995; Sometimes Gladness: Collected Poems, 1954-1997, and A Poet’s People (1999) (all published by Addison Wesley Longman). Bruce Dawe wrote the lyrics for the children’s theatre play, Aesop’s Fables, performed in the Arts Theatre, USQ, Toowoomba, in April 2000. He also wrote the lyrics for the musical play, Muscle Dance, based on the life of polio crusader, Sister Elizabeth Kenny. This was performed in the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba in early August, the same year. Bruce Dawe is presently working on the lyrics for a musical based on the life of Houdini. During 2002 the first of his children’s books were published by Penguin: No Cat – and That’s That and The Chewing Gum Kid both of which are already in reprint. A third children’s book, Show and Tell, also by Penguin, is due for release this year, as is The Headlong Traffic – poems and prose monologues (Longman). A chapbook, Towards a War: Twelve Reflections (Picaro Press), was also published in 2003.


Bruce Dawe will be appearing...

3rd October

1pm - 2.30pm
Poetry Reading in the Red Chamber
Venue: Red Chamber, Parliament House