Australian eco-pastoral poetry

Hawkes, Lesley (2014) Australian eco-pastoral poetry. In The Afterlives of Pastoral, 4-5 July 2014, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD. (Unpublished)


Les Murray and Judith Wright are two Australian poets who are widely read as landscape poets. While this framing offers valuable insights into their work it often fails to bring the importance into a contemporary context or to recognise the long tradition Australia has had with , to use Leo Marx’ term, “the complex pastoral”. As Ruth Blair reminds us in her chapter “Hugging the Shore: The Green Mountains of South-East Queensland” in The Littoral Zone: Australian Contexts and their Writers it is accepted that North America has a tradition of the complex pastoral mode but it should be remembered that Australia also has a long history of this form. Both Judith Wright’s and Les Murray’s poetry encourages active campaigning for the environment .These Australian poets are eco-pastoral poets whose poetry encourages active reading rather than passive reflections. Their poetry speaks to the strong connection between the lived everyday landscape and the imagination of past, present and future. Their work is imbued with a strong sense of ecocritical awareness while at the same time drawing on pastoral conventions. These two Australian poets do not offer idealistic pastoral notions but rather reveal the complexities of lived human/nonhuman relationships. This paper will discuss these complexities and how poetry can be experienced as literature in action—ways for readers to connect with and negotiate with the land they inhabit. The research for this paper was, in part, drawn from the responses that local community library groups offered after reading the works of these poets. What became evident from this research was the way the poetry made the readers think not only of landscape as a place of refuge from the urban technological world but also as a contemporary place with connection to agency that motivates readers into active change.

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ID Code: 75180
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: australian, eco-pastoral, poetry, Les Murray, Book clubs
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LITERARY STUDIES (200500) > Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature) (200502)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Creative Writing & Literary Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author
Deposited On: 28 Jan 2015 23:11
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2015 04:21

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