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Bruce Beaver (1928 – 2004)

Bruce Beaver, Manly NSW, 1984, photo by John Tranter Bruce Beaver, Manly NSW, 1984, photo by John Tranter

Bruce Beaver was born in the Sydney seaside suburb of Manly on 14 February 1928. His childhood and adolescence were unhappy. He wrote his first poem at 17 – a response to the bombing of Hiroshima – and at the same age he began to suffer from what became a life-long problem, manic-depressive illness. He worked in various occupations, travelled in New South Wales and New Zealand, married, and returned to Manly to live and write for most of his life. His first book, Under the Bridge, was published in 1961, and his fourth, a breakthrough volume, Letters to Live Poets, in 1969. In all, he published more than a dozen volumes of poems and ten novels, as well as the autobiographical As It Was (1979).

Rising to prominence in the 1960s, Beaver’s work had a considerable influence on the development on the ‘Generation of 1968’ and the ‘New Australian Poetry’ of the 1970s. Over the course of his career, he won several major Australian literary awards, including the Grace Leven Poetry Prize (1970, for Letters to Live Poets), the C. J. Dennis Prize (1995, for Anima and Other Poems), the Fellowship of Australian Writers Christopher Brennan Award (1982), and the Patrick White Award (1982). In 1991, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for service to literature. He died on 17 February 2004.

Poetry Collections
  • Under the Bridge (New York: Beaujon Press, 1961).
  • Seawall and Shoreline (Sydney: South Head Press, 1964).
  • Open at Random: Poems (Sydney: South Head Press, 1967).
  • Letters to Live Poets (Sydney: South Head Press, 1969).
  • Lauds and Plaints: Poems (1968–1972) (Sydney: South Head Press, 1974).
  • Odes and Days: Poems (Sydney: South Head Press, 1975).
  • Selected Poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1979).
  • Headlands: Prose Sketches (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1986).
  • Charmed Lives (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1988).
  • New and Selected Poems, 1960–1990 (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1991).
  • Anima and Other Poems (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1994).
  • Poets and Others (Rose Bay, NSW: Brandl and Schlesinger, 1999).
  • The Long Game and other poems (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2005).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Bruce Beaver, As It Was… (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1979).
  • Lawrence Bourke, ‘To a Live Poet: Bruce Beaver’, Southerly 52.3 (1992), pp. 161–67.
  • Martin Duwell, ‘ “Having Been Someone Like Myself: The Early Poetry of Bruce Beaver’, Southerly 55.1 (1995), pp. 23–39.
  • Alan Gould, ‘Bruce Beaver: The Quick of Speech’, The Totem Ship (Hahndorf, SA: D&S, 1996), pp. 136–142.
  • Jeffrey Poacher, ‘Necessary Angels: The Poetry of Bruce Beaver’, Heat 15 (2000): pp. 290–95.
  • Dorothy Porter, ‘Charmed Beaver’, Southerly 55.1 (1995), pp. 21–22.
  • Nicolette Stasko, ‘The Love Poetry of Bruce Beaver’, Southerly 55.1 (1995), pp. 40–52.
  • John Tranter, ‘Bruce Beaver, 1928–2004’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 February 2004. [see linked file]
  • John Tranter, ‘In the Year of the Non-Poet: A Conversation,’ Southerly 63.2 (2003), pp. 29–42. [see linked file]

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