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Bruce Dawe Bruce Dawe i(A2508 works by) (a.k.a. Donald Bruce Dawe; Leyburn Choate)
Also writes as: Llewellyn Rhys ; D. B. Dawe ; Frank Hamilton
Born: Established: 15 Feb 1930 Fitzroy, Fitzroy - Collingwood area, Melbourne - North, Melbourne, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 1 Apr 2020
Gender: Male
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In some of his poetry, including the well-known 'Drifters', Bruce Dawe described his itinerant childhood in Melbourne and country Victoria. His first poems were published under the pseudonym of Llewellyn Rhys while he was a student at Northcote High School. After leaving school at the age of sixteen, Dawe worked as a labourer, farmhand, clerk, gardener and postman. In 1954 he attended the University of Melbourne full-time, where the influence of other poets, including AD Hope, Vincent Buckley and Philip Martin, was significant. From 1959 to 1968 he served in the RAAF, completing his first degree and his first three volumes of poetry during this period. Dawe has recalled with gratitude the interest and advice of poet Flexmore Hudson in preparing his first work for publication.

Dawe taught English and History at Downlands College, Toowoomba for two and a half years and in 1972 became a lecturer in literature at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (later the University of Southern Queensland). In 1990, after completing his masters and doctoral degrees, Dawe was made an Associate Professor of the University of Southern Queensland, and appointed its first Honorary Professor in 1993.

A prolific poet, Dawe's work is often characterised by a light approach and the use of satire to explore frequently sombre themes such as the struggle of the individual to find meaning in everyday life, the domestic sphere, the effects of war, political oppression and corruption, and the importance of conservation. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature praises his skilful use of 'speech cadences that combine the brashly colloquial of the spoken Australian language ... with subtle and deftly placed lyricism'. Sometimes Gladness, first published in 1978, has never been out of print and is now in its sixth edition.

Teaching a literature class for the University of the Third Age (U3A), on a voluntary basis, gave Dawe a lot of satisfaction in the years after his retirement in 1993. (U3A is a learning community organised by and for people who can best be described as being in active retirement - the 'third' age. Its overall aim is to provide members with both the stimulus of mental activity and the satisfaction of a continuing contribution to society). He continued to teach classes in literature in Toowoomba and Caloundra.

Most Referenced Works


  • In June 1944, at the age of 14, Bruce Dawe entered a short story in the Youth section of the Australian Journal titled 'The Morning Express'. His address is given as George Street, North Fitzroy.

    Other Australian Journal 'Youth' section stories include:

    • 'Eventide' September, 1944
    • 'Moon Voyage', October, 1945

Personal Awards

2001 Centenary Medal For distinguished service to the arts through poetry.
2001 Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Writers' Emeritus Award The other recipient of the Emeritus Award in 2001 was John Williamson Hooker (q.v.) Both Hooker and Dawe received the maximum amount.
1997 winner Mildura Writers' Festival Awards Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal

Awards for Works

Evening on a Country Road i "When we drove down from the late sunlit road", 2002 single work poetry
— Appears in: Westerly , November vol. 47 no. 2002; (p. 200)
2003 joint winner Patricia Hackett Prize
Drayton Cemetery Memory i "I think you come back here often,", 2002 single work poetry
— Appears in: Westerly , November vol. 47 no. 2002; (p. 199) Sometimes Gladness : Collected Poems, 1954 to 2005 2006; (p. 305)
2003 joint winner Patricia Hackett Prize
y separately published work icon Sometimes Gladness : Collected Poems 1954-1978 Melbourne : Longman Cheshire , 1978 Z543663 1978 selected work poetry

'The sixth edition of Sometimes Gladness includes three indexes to enable readers to find suitable texts. In addition to an alphabetical index, poems are also grouped according to form, and categorised by themes such as war, family, images or dreams.'

1979 highly commended National Book Council Award for Australian Literature
1978 winner Grace Leven Poetry Prize
Last amended 3 Apr 2020 07:27:19
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