Les Murray describes his poetry as ‘a celebration of life; a contemplation of life in ways that interest and delight people and make them reflective’. Poetry, he says, is ‘primarily not to be studied, it is to be read’.
Few people could disagree with Murray that the most desirable response to poetry is for it to be read out of love rather than out of a sense of obligation. But inspiring this distinction between the ‘analytical’ and the ‘instinctive’ approach to poetry are Murray’s ‘deeply ambivalent’ feelings about the motives behind much literary criticism. Murray is not totally convinced that it functions in promoting literature, and like a number of his contemporaries such as Judith Wright and Patrick White, he is also wary of academics.