Bruce Dawe Poetry Essays

He was close to a lone voice during the excesses of the government of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen from the late 1960s through to the late 1980s.Dawe was particularly aggrieved at the draconian legislation that deemed street marches illegal and suppressed free speech.Indeed, he was himself arrested at a protest in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, where he was teaching at the time. Herod – lunatic and obsessive builder of monuments, deems “There will be no more / political marches.

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It was this dazzling omnibus of Dawe that made me want to be a writer.

It allowed me to understand that what was around me could be material for fiction. He responded with a lengthy reply of encouragement.

And, at a time when the contemporary poetry scene is like a city-to-surf marathon, I am happy to think I did my running in less hectic circumstances…” He has been quoted as comparing his craft to that of a labourer, for example, constructing a wall. He is brilliant on children, and one of the best we have on love and loss. SILENCE,” he begins, as a child ten days after birth is taken home in his mother’s arms. He writes of that moment of “fragmentation”, as he calls it, beyond which we “learn where we belong”.

But I think where Dawe stands alone is his preoccupation with the passage of time. Dawe describes his “economy size Mum” and his “Anthony Squires-Coolstream-Summerweight Dad”, a shopping trip, and the growing child’s memory of a late show at the local drive-in where, on a clear night “…he could see (beyond the fifty-foot screen where / giant faces forever snarled screamed or made / incomprehensible and monstrous love) a pure / unadulterated fringe of sky, littered with stars / no one had got around to fixing up yet; he’d watch them / circling about in luminous groups like kids at the circus / who never go quite close enough to the elephant to get kicked.” His life taken later in a vehicle accident, the protagonist is given a “nice ride out to the underground metropolis”, the cemetery, where the annoyances of daily living don’t exist. In “Happiness Is the Art of Being Broken”, he writes with equal poignancy and helplessness: “Happiness is the art of being broken / With least sound.

A child is happy at the prospect of transition, another sad.

No one asks why they’re leaving and where they’re going.It was one of the most important letters of my life. I reveal this tenuous connection with the poet not out of ego, but as a way of expressing how intrinsic Bruce Dawe has been to this writers’ journey.How his work has mirrored one person’s suburban experience since birth.When I was climbing trees, Dawe was writing this: “I have to be careful with my boy./ When he says tree it comes out hazy / very green and friendly and before I’ve got / the meaning straight he’s up there laughing in it, / or working on the word for aeroplane / which is also a little above his head / so that he has to stand on tiptoe to touch it…” Then in 1979, he produced .I write about the things I care about.” He has also said: “I write about people, who interest me more than anything else, because I’m one of them.” I write about people because I’m one of them. Interestingly, , fellow poet Kevin Hart described Dawe’s poems as “ideal for teaching to high school students”.Hart added that “collected” works deserved greater critical scrutiny given it was “a body of work, a statement, not only of intention but also of how well that intention has been realised”.Then this, Dawe’s extraordinary hammer-blow: ” – she’ll only remember how, when they came here, / she held out her hands bright with berries, / the first of the season, and said: / “Make a wish, Tom, make a wish.”‘ There are so many other qualities in that I’d forgotten: the expert use of human dialogue in his poems; a pervasive faith in the human condition; a broad diversification in subject matter and tone that keeps his body of work fresh; and a fearlessness in tackling matters of the human heart.In , editor Thomas Shapcott said Dawe’s work “at once vernacular and expressive of the new, post-war, outer-suburban hinterland.” Shapcott rightly identified that Dawe was capturing a language and a culture previously “untapped”.Dawe himself has said it was partially based on his own youthful experiences. “One day soon he’ll tell her it’s time to start packing.” Everything is instantly restless and uncertain.The wife heads to the vegetable patch and picks the unripe tomatoes.


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