Murray, Les

Murray, Les (Leslie Allan Murray), 1938–2019, Australia's leading poet of the late 20th and early 21st cent., B.A. Univ. of Sydney, 1969. Son of an impoverished dairy farmer, he grew up in New South Wales, traveled widely, taught in various Australian universities, and settled near his family's farm in 1988. Murray's verse is accessible yet sophisticated, precisely descriptive, densely lyrical, alternately witty and deeply thoughtful, and often displays an edge of anger or discontent and shows sympathy with the underprivileged and distrust of elites. His works explore the expansiveness of his native land—its aborigines, colonial settlement, rural and urban landscapes, animals, and the character and personalities of its bush and vast outback—and their achievements earned him an international reputation as Australia's unofficial poet laureate. He published nearly 30 collections, including The Ilex Tree (1965), his first book of poetry, Selected Poems: The Vernacular Republic (1976), Equanimities (1982), The Idyll Wheel (1989), Translations from the Natural World (1992), Subhuman Redneck Poems (1996), Conscious & Verbal (2000), The Biplane Houses (2006), and Collected Poems (2018). Murray also published two verse novels, The Boys Who Stole the Funeral (1980) and the highly regarded Fredy Neptune (1998), and three essay collections (1979, 1984, 1990).

See biography by P. Alexander (2000); studies by P. Nelson (1978), L. Bourke (1992), L. Hergenhan and B. C. Ross, ed. (2001), S. Matthews (2001), and A. Smith, ed. (2002).

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