Laurie Duggan
(Australia, 1949)   
Laurie Duggan

Laurie Duggan was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1949 and now lives in England. He has published numerous books of poems, the most recent being The Passenger, (UQP, 2006), Let’s Get Lost (with Pam Brown and Ken Bolton, Sydney, Vagabond, 2005), Compared to What: Selected Poems 1971-2003, (Exeter, Shearsman, 2005), and Mangroves (UQP, 2003). Shearsman have also republished his 1987 documentary poem The Ash Range (2005). His poems and articles have appeared in many anthologies and in various journals in Australia, New Zealand, Britain and America. He has read at many venues including the Menzies Centre, King’s College, London, December 2006; the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry, April 2006; the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre at the University of Auckland, March 2006; the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, 1992; and on an Australia Council sponsored tour of the USA and Canada in 1987.

Duggan has worked over the years as a screenwriter, a newspaper art critic, a lecturer in Media, Art History and Cultural Studies at various institutions, an Honorary Research Advisor at the University of Queensland and a Writer/Scholar in Residence at Griffith University. He completed a doctorate in Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne in 1999 and UQP subsequently published his thesis, Ghost Nation: Imagined Space and Australian Visual Culture, 1901-1939 (2001). He currently holds a Writer’s Fellowship from Literature Board of the Australia Council.

Laurie Duggan is no populist. As he notes in one interview, he sees himself more part of a generation of ’71 than of the generation of ’68, placing more importance on the friendships and conversations with poets such as John Scott and Alan Wearne, and a shared love of Berrigan’s Sonnets, which emerged around the Monash Readings of the late 60s and early 70s, than the “fifteen minutes of fame” associated with Tranter’s groundbreaking anthology.

His work remains skeptical of the figure of the poet as much as the pretensions of the self, preferring a constant examination of the various textual and cultural streams of information forming the self, coupled with a strikingly precise eye for the images from which the physical world is built and recalled. Perhaps most vitally of all, Duggan’s skepticism is grounded by its humour and readability, and by the musicality of his language and thought. It is conversational without being confessional, the speaking self often being more a gathering of texts and observed perceptions than anything that might be self-consciously lyrical or literary. Duggan notes that he is resigned to a small audience, saying, “I’ll never be Charles Bukowski or Sylvia Plath . . . but then I wouldn’t want to be. I don’t like either of them very much. And I don’t know which is the greater presumption: to expect people to find interest in the things you are interested in or to expect them to find interest in you. I’d opt for the former.”
While Duggan’s poetry incorporates numerous cultural references, creating sometime polyvalent as much as polyvocal texts, the ease and conversational tone, the ongoing uncertainties and doubt about the acts of writing and memory, as much as perception and experience, which seem to fuel much of the writing, keep the poetry from obscurity or any hint of slipping through irony to a reaffirmation of the poet’s role and its cultural importance. His writing is not marked by a self-conscious need to impress through literary acrobatics nor a desire to beguile an audience through the emoting of spiritual insights. Duggan’s poetry is demanding and as such is pleasurable for the insights it offers into the matrix that forms and informs perception and the construction of its voice.

While not populist, Duggan’s work has attracted a very loyal readership over the years, a readership that, following his recent return to poetry with Mangroves and The Passenger, is rapidly and rightfully expanding, leading several critics to note he is among Australia’s foremost or major poets.

© Michael Brennan


East: Poems 1970-74, Rigmarole, Melbourne, 1976.
Under The Weather, Wild & Woolley, Sydney, 1978.
Adventures In Paradise, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, 1982.
The Great Divide: Poems 1973-83, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1985.
The Ash Range, Pan/ Picador, Sydney, 1987.
All Blues, Northern Lights (pamphlet No 31), London, 1989.
Two Epigrams from Martial, Nicholas Pounder, Sydney, 1989.
The Epigrams of Martial (translations), Scripsi, Melbourne, 1989.
Blue Notes, Pan/ Picador, Sydney, 1990.
Adventures In Paradise, 2nd ed., Little Esther, Adelaide, 1991.
The Home Paddock, Noone’s Press, Melbourne, 1991.
Memorials, Little Esther, Adelaide, 1996.
New and Selected Poems, 1971-1993, UQP, St Lucia, 1996.
Mangroves, UQP, St Lucia, 2003.
The Ash Range, 2nd ed., Shearsman, Exeter, 2005.
Compared to What: Selected Poems 1971-2003, Shearsman, Exeter, 2005.
Let’s Get Lost (with Pam Brown and Ken Bolton), Vagabond, Sydney, 2005.
The Passenger, UQP, St Lucia, 2006.


Ghost Nation: Imagined space and Australian Visual Culture, 1901-1939.
UQP, St Lucia, 2001.


‘Amaze your friends’, essay by Laurie Duggan in Text:
‘Discovering the Islands’, essay by Laurie Duggan in Famous Reporter:
Laurie Duggan in Auckland 23-4 March 2006 (poems and links):
‘Thirty Pieces’ epigrams by Laurie Duggan in Great Works:
‘Ornithology’ by Laurie Duggan in Otis Rush:
‘Still life with dying poet’, Laurie Duggan reviews Unhurried Vision by Michael Rothenberg in Jacket:
‘On Gale Turnbull’s Collected Poems, with a digression on his aleatory, kinetic and other of-the-page practices’ by Laurie Duggan in Jacket:
‘The Oval Window (on the poetry of J H Prynne)’ by Laurie Duggan in APRIL:
Laurie Duggan reviews The Default Country by JM Arthur in API Review of Books:
Laurie Duggan and David McCooey in conversation in Double Dialogues:
Australian Poetry Resources Internet Library Duggan Page (Diary entries, poems, essays):
Matt Simpsone reviews The Ash Range in Stride Books:
John Ballam reviews Compared to What: Selected Poems 1971-2003 and Emma Lee reviews The Ash Ranges in New Hope International Review:
Angela Rockel reviews Mangroves in Jacket:
Martin Duwell reviews The Passenger in Australian Poetry Review:
John Lucas reviews The Ash Ranges and Compared to What: Selected Poems 1971-2003:


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