Murray, Les (Leslie Allan Murray), 1938–, Australia's leading contemporary poet, grad. Univ. of Sydney (B.A., 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 farm in 1988. His poetry explores 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. It often exhibits sympathy with the underprivileged and distrust of elites. Frequently employing traditional forms, 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. Since his first book of poetry, The Ilex Tree (1965), he has published more than 20 collections, including 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), and The Biplane Houses (2006). Murray has also written 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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