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This interview is taken from PN Review 84, Volume 18 Number 4, March - April 1992.

Les Murray in Conversation Clive Wilmer

UNTIL QUITE RECENTLY, no English-speaking poet from outside the British Isles or the United States could hope for much of a reputation in Britain. The few who achieved one did so by coming to live here. This lack of interest had little to do with the quality of the poetry, particularly in the case of Australia, a country which has long had more than her fair share of remarkable poets: Judith Wright, A.D. Hope, James McAuley - the list is a long one. The surprising range of Australian poetry was recently documented in The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse, which takes the reader far back into the nineteenth century and - where Aboriginal verse is concerned - probably beyond.

The New Oxford Book was edited, of course, by Les Murray, who is effectively the first Australian poet to have broken through the barriers of indifference. Born in rural New South Wales in 1938, he has recently returned to his native region and now lives on a 40-acre farm there. Dog Fox Field, recently published by Carcanet, .is his tenth book of verse in 25 years. His Collected Poems was published last November.

Clive Wilmer: I know you grew up on a dairy farm in New South Wales. But it's hard, I think, for an English person to imagine quite what life was like in that part of the world at that time. Can you give us some idea?

Les Murray: It was ...


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