Australian literary giant Les Murray – affectionately known as the Bard of Bunyah – has died on the NSW mid north coast, aged 80.
Murray was one of the nation’s most celebrated poets, winning among others the Grace Level Prize, the Petrarch Prize and the prestigious TS Eliot Prize for Subhuman Redneck Poems.
In 1999 he was awarded the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry for Fredy Neptune.
Regarded as “the leading Australian poet of his generation”, he was rated by the National Trust of Australia as one of the 100 Australian Living Treasures.
Sad to hear of Les Murray's passing.
His poem 'An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow' is one of my favourite pieces of writing.
He was a gift. pic.twitter.com/WG543ll7EI
— Ben Abraham (@benabrahammusic) April 29, 2019
Les Murray wasn't just a great Australian poet. He was one of the great poets. pic.twitter.com/lQloGz76Hu
— Dan Dixon (@danldixon) April 29, 2019
Murray was born at Nabiac on the state’s mid north coast in 1938 before moving to Bunyah with his parents.
His time in the Australian bush featured prominently in his poetry.
Australia’s unofficial Poet Laureate, Murray published almost 30 volumes of work in his lifetime, and also wrote and published two verse novels.
Sometimes mentioned as a possible future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Murray attended the University of Sydney, where his contemporaries included Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes and Clive James.
He was also a natural linguist, which enabled him to get a job as a translator at the Australian National University.
In 1962 he married Valerie Morelli, becoming a Catholic in the process. They had five children.
ABC reports that Murray’s agent of 30 years, Margaret Connolly, confirmed his death, saying he died at a nursing home at Taree.
His publisher Black Inc. described Murray as “frequently hilarious and always his own man”.
“We mourn his boundless creativity, as well as his original vision.
“His poetry created a vernacular republic for Australia, a place where our language is preserved and renewed.”