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Chris Wallace-Crabbe (1934 – )

Chris Wallace-Crabbe, photo courtesy the author Chris Wallace-Crabbe, photo courtesy the author


Christopher Wallace-Crabbe was born in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond on 6 May 1934.  His father was a journalist and his mother a pianist. He attended Scotch College and then the University of Melbourne, graduating with a BA in 1956 and an MA in 1964.  Wallace-Crabbe became Melbourne University's Lockie Fellow in Australian Literature and Creative Writing from 1961 to 1963.  Over the next decades he became Reader in English before being promoted to a Personal Chair in 1988. He was Harkness Fellow at Yale University 1965-7, Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard, 1987-8, and visiting Professor at the University of Venice, 1973 and 2005.  In 1984 he was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.  He was also founding director of the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne, serving from 1989 until 1994, and returning as Professor Emeritus in 1998. In 2011 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.

Wallace-Crabbe began publishing poetry while still an undergraduate, with his first book, No Glass Houses, appearing in 1955. He has gone on to publish many volumes, attracting a number of prizes, including the Grace Leven Poetry Prize in 1985 for The Amorous Cannibal, the Dublin Prize for the Arts and Sciences in 1987 and the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal in 2002. His Selected Poems: 1956-1994 won both the Dinny O'Hearn Poetry Prize and the Book of the Year Award in the 1995 Age Book of the Year Awards. Frequently set in Melbourne and generally urbane in tone, his poems range widely in theme and subject, from the political to the personal. Wallace-Crabbe has also edited many anthologies and collections of essays and published a number of collections of his literary criticism and essays.  In 1981 he also published a novel, Splinters. 
Poetry Collections

No Glass Houses ([Melbourne]: Ravenswood Press, 1955).

The Music of Division (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1959).

Eight Metropolitan Poems ([Adelaide]: Australian Letters, [1962]).

In Light and Darkness (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1963).

The Rebel General (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1967).

Where the Wind Came: poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1971).

Selected Poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1973).

Act in the Noon (Warrandyte, Vic: Cotswold Press, 1974).

The Shapes of Gallipoli (Warrandyte, Vic: Cotswold Press, 1975).

The Foundations of Joy (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1976).

The Emotions Are Not Skilled Workers (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1980).

The Amorous Cannibal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).

I’m Deadly Serious (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).

For Crying Out Loud (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).

Rungs of Time (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

Apprehensions: a suite of six poems [a collaboration with artist Bruno Leti] (Melbourne: Centre for the Development of Artists’ Books and Limited Editions, 1994).

Selected Poems: 1956-1994 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

Whirling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

The Alignments (One) and (Two) [collaborations with artist Bruno Leti] (Canberra: Canberra School of Art, Edition and Artists Books Sudio,, 1999-2000).

By and Large (Rose Bay: Brandl and Schlesinger, 2001; Manchester: Carcanet, 1999).

A Representative Human: Poems and Drawings (Brunswick, Victoria: Gungurra Press, 2003).

Next (Brunswick, Victoria: Gungurra Press, 2004).

The Universe Looks Down (Blackheath, NSW: Brandl and Schlesinger, 2005).

The Flowery Meadow: Being Canto XXVIII of Purgatorio from La Divina Commedia (Malvern East, Vic: Electio Editions, 2005).

Then (Brunswick: Gungurru Press, 2006).

The Thing Itself and other poems (Warners Bay, NSW: Picaro Press, 2007).

Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008).

Skin, Surfaces and Shadows: A Triptych [a collaboration with artist Tommaso Durante] (Melbourne: The Author, 2008).

Gwen Harwood, Mappings of the Plane: New Selected Poems, eds. Greg Kratzmann and Chris Wallace-Crabbe, (Manchester: Carcanet, 2009).

The Domestic Sublime ([Spit Junction, NSW]: River Road Press, 2009).

Puck (Brunswick: Gungurru Press, 2010).

New and Selected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2013).


Suggested Further Reading

Cassandra Atherton, "Indenting the White Pillow with Dreams", Morpheus to Morphine : A Study of Kinsella's and Wallace-Crabbe's Recent Poetry (Newcastle upon Tyne:Cambridge Scholars Press,2011), pp. 55-68.

Cassandra Atherton, ‘Golden Leaves: Memory and Sobriety in Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s Poetry,’ Lemuria 1.1 (2006), pp. 80-88.

Cassandra Atherton, ‘ “The Edge of Something”: Statis and Rebirth in the Recent Poetry of Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ Antipodes 17.1 (2003), pp. 38-43.

Hazel de Berg, [Interview with Chris Wallaee-Crabbe], sound recording (Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1969).

Adrian Colma, ‘A Modest Radiance: The Poetry of Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ Westerly 1 (1969), pp. 45-51.

Paul Kane, ‘Paul Kane Talks with Chris Wallace-Crabbe About Poetry and Other Australian Topics,’ Antipodes 12.2 (1998), pp. 105-07.

David McCooey, ‘An Interview with Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ Australian Literary Studies 17.4 (1996), pp. 377-82.

David McCooey, ‘Chris-Wallace Crabbe,’ in Selina Samuels, ed., Australian Writers, 1950-1975 (Gale Research Co., 2004), pp. 299¬–307.

David McCooey, ‘Leisure and Grief: The Recent Poetry of Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ Australian Literary Studies 18.4 (1998), pp. 101-14.

Geoff Page, ‘Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1995), pp. 304-08.

Thomas Shapcott, ‘The Imaginative Enterprise: An Interview with Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ Makar 13.3 (1978), pp. 38-43.

Michael Sharkey, ‘Starting from Melbourne: The Coherence of Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ JASAL 6.1 (2007), pp. 104-19. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/63067/20090910-1633/www.nla.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/jasal/article/view/365/751.html

Peter Steele, ‘To Move in Light: The Poetry of Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ Meanjin Quarterly 29.2 (1970), pp. 149-55.

Jennifer Strauss, ‘Chris Wallace-Crabbe: An Ironist at Work in the Gap between gluecklicher Dichter and obiter dicta,’ "Stop Laughing! I’m Being Serious”: Three Studies in Seriousness and Wit in Contemporary Australian Poetry (Townsville, Qld: Foundation for Australian Literature Studies, James Cook University, 1990), pp. 53-74.

Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Falling into Language (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1990).

Barbara Williams, ‘Interview with Chris Wallace-Crabbe,’ In Other Words: Interviews with Australian Poets (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998), pp. 243-54, 279).

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