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Vincent Buckley (1925 – 1988)

Vincent Buckley, photographer unknown Vincent Buckley, photographer unknown

Vincent Buckley was born at Romsey, in the Macedon Ranges, Victoria, on 8 July 1925. He was educated by the Jesuits in Melbourne and at the Universities of Melbourne (B.A., M.A.) and Cambridge. In 1958 he was appointed Lockie Fellow in the English Department at Melbourne University, and was subsequently awarded a personal Chair in 1967. From 1961–1963 he was also poetry editor of The Bulletin. He died in Melbourne on 12 November 1988.

Buckley was a central figure in the contemporary, somewhat academic style of poetry that developed at the University of Melbourne in the 1950s and 60s. His first book of poems was The World’s Flesh (1954), and he went on to publish and edit over a dozen books of poetry, essays and criticism, as well as an autobiographical memoir, Cutting Green Hay: Friendships, Movements and Cultural Conflicts in Australia’s Great Decades (1983). His best-known book of poems is Golden Builders and Other Poems (1976). Buckley won several major literary awards for his poetry including the Christopher Brennan award (1982), the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal (1962, for Masters in Israel), and, posthumously, the John Bray award (1992, for Last Poems). Buckley was deeply interested in Irish politics, culture, and history, and spent much of his later years in Ireland. In 1993, the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize, awarded alternately to Australian and to Irish poets, was established in his memory by the University of Melbourne.

Poetry Collections
  • The World’s Flesh (Melbourne: Cheshire, 1954).
  • Masters in Israel (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1961).
  • Arcady and Other Places: Poems (Melbourne: University of Melbourne Press, 1966).
  • Poetry and the Sacred (London: Chatto and Windus, 1968).
  • Golden Builders and other poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1976).
  • The Pattern (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1979).
  • Selected Poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1981).
  • Last Poems (Ringwood, Vic.: McPhee Gribble, 1991).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Booth, Elizabeth, ‘Vincent Buckley [interview]’, Quadrant 20.8 (1976): pp. 27–32.
  • Kavanagh, Paul and Peter Kuch, ‘Scored for the Voice: Vincent Buckley [interview],’ Conversations: Interviews with Australian Writers (North Ryde, NSW: Angus and Robertson, 1991): pp. 1–27.
  • McLaren, John, Journey without Arrival: The Life and Writing of Vincent Buckley (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009).
  • Page, Geoff, ‘Vincent Buckley,’ A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1995): pp. 32–35.
  • Wallace-Crabb, Chris, ‘Vincent Buckley,’ in Selina Samuels, ed., Australian Writers, 1950–1975 (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 2004): pp. 29–35.