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Philip Hodgins (1959 – 1995)

Philip Hodgins

fl. 1986-2000

Philip Hodgins was born at Katandra West, near Shepparton, Victoria, on 28 January 1959. His parents were dairy farmers, and the experience of growing up on a farm in rural Australia would become central to Hodgins's poetry. He was educated in Geelong, and after leaving school worked as a sales representative for the international publishing company Macmillan. In November 1983, Hodgins was diagnosed with leukaemia, and given just three years to live; the illness proved an important spur in his decision to pursue a career as a poet. In 1986, he enrolled at the University of Melbourne as a full-time student, and the same year published his first poetry collection, Blood and Bone, which won the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award for Poetry in 1987. In 1987, he married writer Janet Shaw, with whom he had two children.

Hodgins remained a prolific and much admired poet for the rest of his lifetime, publishing four further major collections: Poetry Australia (1988), Animal Warmth (1990), Up on All Fours (1993), and Things Happen (1995), and a verse novella, Dispossessed: A Tale of Modern Rural Australia (1994). A skilful exponent of traditional poetic forms, Hodgins's poetry often reflects on aspects of his personal experience, such as life and work in Australian rural communities, and on living with a terminal illness, in measured, unsentimental and sometimes stark imagery.

Hodgins died on 18 August 1995, at Maryborough, Victoria. One of the founders of the Mildura Writers Festival in 1994, he was honoured in 1997 by the establishment of the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal, awarded annually to a consistently outstanding Australian writer.

Poetry Collections

Blood and Bone (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1986).

Poetry Australia  (Sydney: ABC Books, 1988).

Animal Warmth (North Ryde, NSW: Angus and Robertson, 1990).

Up on All Fours (Pymble, NSW: Angus and Robertson, 1993).

The End of the Season: Pastoral Poems (Canberra: Brindabella Press, 1993).

Dispossessed: A Tale of Modern Rural Australia (Pymble, NSW: Angus and Robertson, 1994).

Things Happen (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1995).

Selected Poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1997).

New Selected Poems (Sydney: Duffy and Snellgrove, 2000).

Suggested Further Reading 

Peter Boyle, 'Doggerel and Grace: Australian Poetry in the Mid-'90s,' Cordite: Poetry and Poetics Review 1 (1997). <http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/14234/20010621/cordite.org.au/back-issues/cordite_01.pdf>

Gary Catalano, 'Pure Description: On the Poetry of Philip Hodgins,' Ulitarra no.13 (1998), pp. 49-62.

Janet Chimoyo, ' "Now the Thought of Never Growing Old…" A Conversation with Philip Hodgins,'
Antipodes 8.1 (1994), pp. 63-64.

Peter Goldsworthy, 'The Biology of Poetry,' Five Bells 10.1 (2002), pp. 22-26.

Dennis Haskell, 'On Philip Hodgins's Things Happen,' Salt 8 (1996), pp. 32-36.

Geoff Page, 'Philip Hodgins,' A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry (St Lucia, Qld:
University of Queensland Press, 1995), pp. 124-30.

Dipti Saravanamuttu, 'On Phillip Hodgins,' Heat no.14 (2000), pp. 206-12.

Seth Werner, 'Voicing the Body: The Cancer Poems of Philip Hodgins,' Bodies and Voices: The Force-
Field of Representation and Discourse in Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008), pp. 237-49.

Barbara Williams, 'Philip Hodgins,' In Other Words: Interviews with Australian Poets (Amsterdam:
Rodopi, 1998), pp. 60-70, 272).