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Martin Harrison (1949 – )

Martin Harrison, portrait by Juno Gemes© Martin Harrison, portrait by Juno Gemes©

Martin Harrison was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1949. He studied at the University of Cambridge, where he attained a Master of Arts, and started publishing his poems in London in the mid-70s. After living for three years in New Zealand, he settled in Sydney in 1978. He worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for a number of years, and has been a leading ABC radio producer and broadcaster associated equally with drama, poetry and criticism on radio and with the promotion of innovative forms of sound-feature and sound-work. He currently teaches writing, poetry and sound studies at the University of Technology in Sydney.

Harrison’s first poetry collection, Leisure, was published in England in 1978. He has since published a number of further collections, including a volume of new and selected poems, Wild Bees (2008). He has also written widely as a reviewer and critic, mainly on contemporary Australian literature. A collection of essays mainly about contemporary poetry, Who Wants to Create Australia (2004), was selected as one of the Times Literary Supplement’s ‘International Books of the Year’ for 2004. His poetry has been praised for its lyrical and metaphorical richness of vision as well as for the essayistic, many-sided nature of some his longer poems. Reviewers comment on how his poems are located in intense, momentary experiences and yet are often interwoven with an upfront sense of a world of technology, media and electronic information. He has been described as a writer whose poetry is both a meditation and a meeting place between the immensity of Australian environment and the hi-tech urbane world of everyday Western life.

Poetry Collections
  • Leisure: Poems (London: Great Works Editions, 1978).
  • Truce: Poems (Eastbourne, NZ: Hawk Press, 1979).
  • 1975 (London: Ferry Press, 1980).
  • The Distribution of Voice (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1993).
  • The Kangaroo Farm (Brooklyn, NSW: Paper Bark Press, 1997).
  • Summer (St Leonards, NSW: Paper Bark Press, 2001).
  • Music: Prose and Poems (Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2005).
  • Wild Bees: New and Selected Poems (Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia, 2008).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Adam Aitken, ‘The Aerial View…: Adam Aitken Interviews Martin Harrison,’ Cordite: Poetry and Poetics Review no.4 (1998), pp. 3–8. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/14234/20010621/cordite.org.au/back-issues/cordite_04.pdf
  • Stuart Cooke, ‘Liminal Narratives,’ Jacket no.28 (2005), online, http://jacketmagazine.com/28/cooke-harrison.html
  • Martin Harrison, Who Wants to Create Australia? Essays on Poetry and Ideas in Contemporary Australia (Broadway, NSW: Halstead Press, 2004).
  • Martin Harrison, Introduction to ‘Breakfast’, Island no. 103 (2005), pp. 25–30.
  • ‘On the Road (Part 1): Samuel Wagan Watson and Martin Harrison,’ Poetica (Australian Broadcasting Co., 2009), internet, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/poetica/features/pod/poets/harrisonwatson1.htm
  • ‘On the Road (Part 2): Samuel Wagan Watson and Martin Harrison,’ Poetica (Australian Broadcasting Co., 2009), internet, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/poetica/features/pod/poets/harrisonwatson2
  • Patricia Rolfe, ‘The Poet of the Riverina,’ Bulletin 12 May 1998, p. 70.
  • Ian Templeman, ‘How Things Sing,’ Australian Book Review no.310 (2009), p. 35.