Here you will find a generous selection of Malouf's poetry, stretching from his first work through to previously unpublished poems. Malouf’s voice blends erudition and music with masterful ease and acuity, allowing the worlds of thought, the body and dream to be integrated, and to flow forth with a sensual and transformative grace. There is a tact and integrity to Malouf’s work that is able to interweave the rich heritage of Western mythology with contemporary social reality, illuminating and transforming the present into a depth of presence that speaks across time, joining in the endless metamorphosis of human being.
David Malouf was born in Brisbane in 1934. His father’s family had immigrated to Australia from the Lebanon in the 1880s and his mother’s family had arrived from London before the First World War. In 1955, Malouf graduated from the University of Queensland and then taught in the Department of English there until he moved to England in 1959. He remained in England, working as a teacher at Holland Park Comprehensive School and then Birkenhead, during which time his first selection of poems appeared in Australia in the collection Four Poets in 1962.
Returning to Australia in 1968, Malouf lectured in English at the University of Sydney until 1977, during which time he published three further collections of poetry Bicycle and other poems (1970), Neighbours in a Thicket: poems (1974), Poems 1975-76 (1976), edited a collection of Australian verse titled Gesture of a Hand (1975) and published his first novel Johnno (1975). In 1978, he published his second novel An Imaginary Life, the dream-like tale of Ovid in exile, which was a critical success and has become a classic of Australian literature. In the same year he moved to Campagnatico in Tuscany, Italy, and dedicated himself to writing full-time, producing three further collections of poetry, three further novels/novellas and a collection of short stories before returning to Sydney in 1985 where he still lives today.
Since returning to Sydney, he has published numerous other novels, short story collections, a work of autobiography, non-fiction and libretti. He delivered the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s 1998 Boyer Lectures, examining the shaping of Australian history, consciousness and imagination, which were subsequently published under the title A Spirit of Play (and are available online). In 2003, he contributed an essay to Black Inc’s Quarterly Essay series, entitled Made in England. In 1992, David Malouf: Poems 1959-1989 was published by the University of Queensland Press leaving no doubt that Malouf remains equally one of Australia's most important novelists and poets.
Malouf has won numerous awards and accolades in Australia and internationally including the 1974 Grace Leven Prize for poetry, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 2000 Lannan Literary Award (US). Closer to home he was awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal in 2003 for service to Australian society and literature.
Since then, the collections titled Every Move You Make (2006) and The Complete Stories (2007) were published, as was the novel, Ransom, based on an episode in the Trojan War.
Malouf’s more recent poems, such as “Elegy: The Absences” and “The Crab Feast,” set forth a complex but absolutely clear and masterfully sustained music that resonates with the narratives of love, death, union, godhead and desire that underwrite so much of Western literature and thought. A part of Malouf’s mastery is that his poetry’s music flows seamlessly from particular place, from Australia, and casts universal concerns into a recognisable but never overstated vernacular. He captures in the interweaving of idiom and the miscellanies of history and myth, the complex layering and timbre of Australian voice as it flows into the greater delta of English. Poems such as ‘Seven Last Words of the Emperor Hadrian’ show clearly how close we exist to age-old truths of loss and love, and bring forth a deep sense of common, and so connected, humanity. Precision, the transformative powers of language, the joys of being in and of the body while connected to the limitless world, along with the same profound spiritual generosity and insight that illuminates his novels, coalesce in these poems, rendering the endless metamorphosis and divine music of language, body, being and earth.
Malouf's formidable oeuvre exhibits a virtuosity unparalleled in contemporary Australian letters, and his poetry and prose alike firmly place him at the forefront of contemporary literature internationally. It is a great pleasure to be able to offer to Poetry International readers a substantial selection of poetry from one of Australia's greatest writers.
Bicycle and Other Poems, 1970
Neighbours in a Thicket: Poems, winner of the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal, 1974
Poems 1975-76, 1976
First Things Last: Poems, 1980
Wild Lemons: Poems 1980
David Malouf: Selected Poems 1959-1989, 1992
Guide to the Perplexed and Other Poems, 2007
Typewriter Music, 2007
Revolving Days, 2008
Earth Hour, 2014
Novels & Novellas
An Imaginary Life, winner of the NSW Premier's Literary Award, 1978
The Child’s Play, 1982
Fly Away Peter, The Age Book of the Year Award, 1982
Harland’s Half Acre, 1984
The Great World, winner of the Miles Franklin Award and the Prix Femina Etranger, 1990
Remembering Babylon, winner of the NSW Premier's Literary Award and the International IMPAC award, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, 1993
Conversations at Curlow Creek, nominated for The Age Book of the Year Award and the Miles Franklin Award, 1996
Short story collections
Untold Tales, 1999
Dream Stuff, 2000
Every Move You Make, 2006
The Complete Stories, 2007
Blood Relations, 1988
Mer de Glace, 1991
Baa Baa Black Sheep, 1993
Jane Eyre, 2000
12 Edmonstone Street, 1985
A Spirit of Play: The Making of Australian Consciousness, Boyer Lectures, 1998
Made in England, Quarterly Essay, Black Inc, 2003
On Experience, Little Books on Big Themes, 2008
The Happy Life, Quarterly Essay, Black Inc, 2011
Gesture of a Hand, anthology of Australian verse, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Artarmon, 1975
New Currents in Australian Writing, ed. with Katharine Brisbane & R.F. Brissenden, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1978
Interview with Helen Daniel in Australian Humanities Review
“Our Island Home: Maxine McKew speaks to author David Malouf,” Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Lateline program, November 25, 1998
“Dream Stuff: Summer Series,” interview with Ramona Koval on Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Books & Writing Program, January 5, 2001.
Seminar with David Malouf and his distinguished French translator, Robert Pepin, held at Monash University, Melbourne, on 21 October 1997.
Webcast of “Revisiting Mythologies: A Public Conversation Between John Ralston Saul and David Malouf,” May 23, 2000 from the National Library of Canada Auditorium
Australian Broadcasting Commission’s 1998 Boyer Lectures, ‘A Spirit of Play’
Text of LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium 2004 Lecture, University of Toronto, March 12, 2004