Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chris Wallace-Crabbe awarded Order of Australia

Chris Wallace-Crabbe Photo: Neil Newitt

CHRIS Wallace-Crabbe won his first prize when he was five. He still has the book he received. ''It says it was literature. Quite what they meant by that I really don't know.''

Now, 72 years later, the Richmond-born poet has received another honour for literature, although this time the reasons behind his Order of Australia have been spelt out: ''For service to the arts as a leading poet, critic and educator …''

While admitting that he finds it slightly odd, he says he has often thought it would be good if more people in the creative arts were recognised. ''But I'm very pleased and I'm very pleased that poetry got a guernsey.''

Wallace-Crabbe published his first collection, The Music of Division, in 1959; next year New and Selected Poems will appear.

In between there have been 15 other collections and a novel.

He has edited several books and remains emeritus professor at Melbourne University's Australian Centre, of which he was founding director in 1989.

He has held visiting academic posts at Harvard, Yale, Venice and Exeter universities, and is founding chair of the Australian Poetry Centre.

In a poem called Modern Times from his 2001 book, By and Large, he writes: ''Part of my self would love to master/ Versatile verses that might contain/ Bamboozle, billy-cart, bonk, and bonzer,/ Teasing language to fill up the frame.''

Wallace-Crabbe says the life of a poet is not always easy in Australia: ''There are few countries where a poet really makes enough money. Most have other occupations.''

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/a-sharp-eye-brings-its-own-reward-20110612-1fz8c.html#ixzz1PDrljwBG

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