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Anthony Lawrence was born in 1957 in Tamworth, New South Wales. He left school early, taking up work as a Jackeroo, going on to work as a landscape gardener, fisherman and truck driver. Later he studied primary school teaching and for while taught at both primary and secondary school level. While he was working on a fishing trawler in Western Australia, he was awarded an Australia Council literary grant which enabled him to spend time writing. His first book Dreaming in Stone was published in 1989, after what he describes as fourteen years of perseverance reading and writing poetry. In 2011 he was awarded a PhD in Literature from the University of Queensland.

An important figure in contemporary Australian poetry, Lawrence has received numerous grants, awards and prizes, is widely read and anthologized, with 16 collections of poetry. Besides poetry he has written a novel, In the Half Light (Picador, 2000). Fishing, the coast and the ocean are recurrent subjects in Lawrence’s work, as is death and poets. Lawrence’s poetry ranges widely in its geography, very often landscape is tied inextricably to a poem’s ostensible theme, such as in “Whistling Foxes’, where an acute observation of his father, brings with it a window on death, ethics and the land. His might be described in some ways as a coastal poetry, salty and intrinsically Australian, detailed with a clear and elegant evocation of both place and character. This, along with his with brilliant phrasing and narrative drive combines to give his work a lyric intensity.

He cites as his major influences a mixture of mostly 20th Century Australian and American collections, including Robert Lowell's Life Studies, the selected poems of Philip Levine, Philip Hodgins' Selected Poems, The Gold Cell by Sharon Olds, W.S. Merwin's books, Robert Adamson's Swamp Riddles, Cross the Border and The Clean Dark, the books of Judith Beveridge, James Dickey's Collected Poems, and Richard Hugo's ‘sprawling, breathtaking’ Making Certain It Goes On.


The Dark Ship
Landing Lights


A conversation with Anthony Lawrence, recorded 2001


Cold Wires of Rain, Stephen Edgar, June 1996
New and Selected Poems, Megan Schaffner, June 1998
Skinned by Light, Stephen Edgar, December 2002


Poetry Foundation
Rae Desmond Jones reviews The Welfare Of My Enemy
Judith Beveridge's launch of Signal Flare