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Robert Kenny (1952 – )

Robert Kenny was born in Melbourne in 1952. Associated with the experimental poetry scene based around Carlton’s La Mama theatre and the ‘Generation of ’68’ poets, some of his early poems appeared in Thomas Shapcott’s anthology Australian Poetry Now (1970). In the 1970s Kenny was active in small press poetry publishing. With Michael Dugan and Philip Edmonds, he founded Contempa Publications (1972–c.1978), which published collections of poetry and prose as well as the magazine Contempa, and the small press Rigmorale of the Hours, later Rigmorale Books (c.1974–1986), which published poetry by Jennifer Maiden, Laurie Duggan, Kris Hemensley, Katherine Gallagher and Anna Couani, among others. With Colin Talbot, he edited the influential anthology Applestealers: is a collection of the new poetry in Australia (1974).

Kenny’s first poetry collection Dead Ocean Poems appeared in 1975. He has published four further collections, including The Winter Bridge (1994), which also contains a collection of his drawings. In the 1970s and 1980s he wrote several works experimenting with the conventions of detective and crime fiction, including A Book of Detection (1978), and The Last Adventures of Christian Doom, Private I (1982). More recently Kenny has built a successful career as a historian. He completed a PhD at La Trobe University in 2003, and his subsequent book Nathanael Pepper and the Ruptured World (2007) won several prizes including the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History (joint-winner, 2008).

Poetry Collections
  • Dead Oceans Poems (Melbourne: Rigmorale of the Hours, 1975).
  • ‘Poem’: (Poem in Inverted Commas) (Clifton Hill, Vic: Ragman Productions, 1975).
  • Etcetera (Clifton Hill, Vic: Ragman Productions, 1978).
  • Dark Lyrics: being The Burning Bridges, a Melancholy Sequence, with A Tactless Lament, A Short Biography (Clifton Hill, Victoria: 1987).
  • The Winter Bridge: Poems and Drawings 1991–94 (Fitzroy North, Vic: Eaglemont Books, 1993).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Robert Kenny, ‘Living, Sulking and Fighting in the Seventies,’ Australian Literary Studies 8.2 (1977), pp. 202–07.
  • Robert Kenny, ‘Welcome, Stranger,’ Introduction to Applestealers APRIL