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Peter Porter

Peter Porter

Peter Porter was born in Brisbane in 1929 and died in London in 2010; he had lived there since 1951. He published countless poetry collections, anthologies, reviews, and essays for almost half a century. He was a frequent contributor to ABR. His collections include The Cost of Seriousness (1978), Fast Forward (1984), and Collected Poems (1983 and 1999). His many awards included the 1988 Whitbread Poetry Award, the 1990 ALS Gold Medal, the 2002 Forward Poetry Prize, and the 2002 Queen’s Medal for Poetry. He wrote thousands of reviews, essays, lectures, and introductions. His work appeared in Australian Book Review from 1985 to 2010. His fellow poet–critic Peter Steele, who wrote a monograph on Porter, published this tribute in ABR following Peter Porter’s death on 23 April 2010. ABR’s poetry prize was renamed after him to honour his remarkable poetry and generosity to countless Australian poets.

'"The Observed of all Observers": Biography in Poetry' by Peter Porter

November 2004, no. 266 01 November 2004
A biographer follows the life of a chosen person or a chosen group or people, or perhaps a particular scene or epoch. An autobiographer, like a snail outed by the Sun, looks back at his or her tracks and tries to explain how he or she got this far, possibly hinting at vindication or in more extravagant mode, self-immolation. Unfortunately I am a poet, and a prose writer only to earn a living. My f ... (read more)

Peter Porter reviews 'The Penguin Book of Gay Australian Writing' edited by Graeme Aitken

December 2002-January 2003, no. 247 01 December 2002
This is a strange assortment of pieces. To someone who doesn’t move in any gay community, the anthology’s chief problem is its fissiparousness. There has to be a distinction between gay writing and writing by authors who are gay. The majority of contributors to Graeme Aitken’s book take gay life to be their subject, but several are included because they are gay, while not necessarily employi ... (read more)

'Fifty Years On', a new poem by Peter Porter

April 2001, no. 229 01 April 2001
Every Intention has something Arbitrary.                        Goethe Early on, my mind was in reverse.I read a book the name I thought was FromWhite Cabin to Log House, and ever afterI knew ambition must go to cancrizans. To Carthage then I came, but this was London,Waiting for th ... (read more)

'The Survival of Poetry' by Peter Porter

October 2002, no. 245 01 October 2002
Some years ago I wrote a poem called ‘A Table of Coincidences’, which contained the lines: ‘the day Christopher Columbus discovered America / Was the day Piero della Francesca died.’ This is a verifiable fact, unless changes in the Western calendar have altered things. Clearly, I was being sententious and reactionary: the ancient good of the world and its new doubtfulness seemed to start o ... (read more)

Peter Porter reviews 'Tiepolo’s Cleopatra' by Jaynie Anderson

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
Melburnians are rightly proud of the great painting by Giambattista Tiepolo in the National Gallery of Victoria, The Banquet of Cleopatra. Now restored to its prominent position in the gallery, it will continue to attract admiration from generations of visitors, though we should hope that its neighbouring masterpiece, Sebastiano Ricci’s The Finding of Moses, is not overlooked when connoisseurs g ... (read more)

Peter Porter reviews 'Typewriter Music' by David Malouf

June 2007, no. 292 01 July 2007
A review is more like a conversation than an overview from an Academy, and conversations often start with a salient point leading on to judgement. I suggest readers of David Malouf’s new collection should turn straight to page twenty-five and encounter a spray of short poems, titled ‘Seven Last Words of the Emperor Hadrian’. This is prefaced by the Silver Age Emperor’s own verse, the legen ... (read more)

'Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath: A Bystander’s Recollections' by Peter Porter

August 2001, no. 233 01 August 2001
I should make it clear at the start of these discursive memories that I knew Ted Hughes only slightly and Sylvia Plath hardly at all. But I lived in fairly close proximity to their ascent to fame in the 1950s and 1960s and knew much more closely some of the personalities intimately involved in the crisis in the lives of these two remarkable poets. Then, after Sylvia’s death in early 1963, I watc ... (read more)
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