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Peter Goldsworthy (1951 – )

Peter Goldsworthy was born in Minalton, South Australia, in 1951, the eldest child of two teachers. He grew up in South Australia and in Darwin, where he attended Darwin High School. He subsequently studied medicine at the University of Adelaide, and began practicing as a doctor in 1974. He continues to divide his time between medicine and writing. Peter lives in Adelaide with his wife Lisa Temple, who is a teacher and poetry anthologist. A prolific writer, Goldsworthy has published a number of novels: Maestro (1989), Honk If You Are Jesus (1992), Magpie: A Novel (1992), Wish (1995), Keep It Simple, Stupid (1996), Three Dog Night (2003), Everything I Knew: A Novel (2008), as well as collections of short stories: Archipelagoes (1982), Zooing (1986), Bleak Rooms (1988), Little Deaths (1993), Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam (1999), The List of All Answers: Collected Stories (2004), Gravel (2010). He has also published a collection of essays, Navel Gazing: Essays, Half-Truths and Mystery Flights (1998), and edited the anthology True Blue? On Being Australian (2008). In 2001 he was appointed Chair of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, and in 2010 he was created a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service to literature.

Goldsworthy began publishing poetry in the early 1970s, with his work appearing frequently through that decade in literary journals, including Westerly , Makar , Meanjin , and Poetry Australia . In the later 1970s he became involved with the Adelaide-based Friendly Street poetry group, and his work appeared in a number of Friendly Street Anthologies of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Goldsworthy’s first poetry collection Readings from Ecclesiastes was published by Angus and Robertson in 1982; the volume attracted significant critical attention and went on to win the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for best first collection, as well as the FAW Anne Elder Prize (joint winner with Gig Ryan), and the South Australian government’s Biennial Literature Prize (1984). He has published seven poetry collections to date, including two volumes of selected work, This Goes with That: Selected Poems 1970–1990 (1991), and New Selected Poems (2001). His poetry is particularly noted for its sharp observation, wit, and satirical humour. He has also written the libretti for the operas Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1996) and Batavia (2001).

Poetry Collections
  • Readings from Ecclesiastes: Poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1982).
  • This Goes with This (Crows Nest, NSW: ABC Books, 1988).
  • This Goes with That: Selected Poems 1970–1990 (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1991).
  • After the Ball. Pamphlet Poets (Canberra, ACT: National Library of Australia, 1992).
  • If, Then: Poems and Songs (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1996).
  • New Selected Poems (Potts Point: Duffy and Snellgrove, 2001).
  • Tattered Joys (Warners Bay, NSW: Picaro Press, 2002).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Peter Goldsworthy, [website], www.petergoldsworthy.com
  • Gary Catalano, ‘Words and Music,’ Island no.53 (1992), pp. 54–57.
  • Peter Goldsworthy, Navel Gazing: Essays, Half-Truths and Mystery Flights (Ringwood, Vic: Penguin, 1998).
  • Nina Higgs, ‘Peter Goldsworthy,’ in Ioana Petrescu and Naomi Brewer, eds., Heart of the Matter: An Introduction to Eighteen South Australian Poets (Adelaide, SA: Lythrum Press, 2004), pp. 10–15.
  • Richard Hillman, ‘Peter Goldsworthy,’ in Selina Samuels, ed., Australian Writers 1975–2000 (Detroit, USA: Gale Research, 2006), pp. 116–21.
  • Geoff Page, ‘Peter Goldswothy,’ A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1995), pp. 79–80.
  • Andrew Riemer, The Ironic Eye: The Poetry and Prose of Peter Goldsworthy (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1994).
  • Dominique Wilson, ‘The Interview: Peter Goldsworthy,’ Wet Ink no.8 (2007), pp. 30–33.