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Rhyll McMaster (1947 – )

Rhyll McMaster, portrait by Juno Gemes© Rhyll McMaster, portrait by Juno Gemes©

Rhyll McMaster was born in Brisbane in 1947. She began writing poetry at an early age and published several poems in the Bulletin while she was still in high school. She worked for a time as a secretary, while continuing to write poetry. She married and went to Hobart with then husband Roger McDonald in 1967, where she worked in the editorial office of the journal Australian Literary Studies, then based at the University of Tasmania. The couple returned to Brisbane about 1969, and in 1976 moved with their children to a rural area near Canberra, where McMaster ran the family’s sheep farm. She subsequently moved to the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales and began writing full-time. She currently lives in Sydney.

McMaster published early poems in a range of literary journals including Makar, Poetry Australia, Westerly, and Semper Floreat, before publishing her first collection The Brineshrimp in 1972. She has since published six further collections, including Washing the Money: Poems with Photographs, joint winner of the C. J. Dennis prize and winner of the Grace Leven Prize in 1986, and Flying the Coop: New and Selected Poems 1972–1994, joint winner of the Grace Leven Prize for 1995. More recently McMaster has switched to writing fiction; she published her acclaimed debut novel Feather Man in 2007, winning the inaugural Barbara Jefferis Award.

Poetry Collections
  • The Brineshrimp (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1972).
  • Washing the Money: poems with photographs (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1986).
  • On My Empty Feet (Port Melbourne, Vic: Heinemann Australia, 1993).
  • Flying the Coop: New and Selected Poems 1972–1994 (Port Melbourne, Vic: Heinemann Australia, 1994).
  • Chemical Bodies: A Diary of Probable Events (Rose Bay, NSW: Brandl and Schlesinger, 1997).
  • Evolutionary History of Edward Kelly in Primary Colours (Canberra: Nolan Fallery and Canberra School of Art, 1999).
  • The Elegant Rabbit: and other poems (Warners Bay, NSW: Picaro Press, 2003).
  • Washing the Money (Warners Bay, NSW: Picaro Press, 2008)
Suggested Further Reading
  • Peter F. Alexander, ‘ “Vital Organ with Strings Attached”: The Poetry of Rhyll McMaster,’ Southerly 55.4 (1995), pp. 14–20.
  • Nikki Barrowclough, ‘Pastoral Imperfect,’ Sydney Morning Herald; Good Weekend 23 November 1991, pp. 34–45.
  • Barbara Bursill, ‘The Last Enchanted Molecule,’ Westerly 41.3 (1996), pp. 66–76.
  • Gary Catalano, ‘The Poetry of Rhyll McMaster,’ Island no.59 (1994), pp. 66–68.
  • Rhyll McMaster, ‘Rhyll McMaster,’ Australian Book Review no.155 (1993), p. 44.
  • Rhyll McMaster, ‘Rhyll McMaster Reads From Her Works at the Australian Defence Force Academy Library,’ 6 May 1994, videocassette, VHS.
  • Rhyll McMaster and Jane Zageris. Australian Poets on Tape. (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1975), cassette.
  • Rhyll McMaster webpage: www.rhyllmcmaster.co
  • Geoff Page, ‘Rhyll McMaster,’ A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1995), pp. 195–98.
  • Geoff Page, ‘Continuity and Change,’ Voices 5.2 (1995), pp. 113–17.
  • Philip Salom, [untitled review], Australian Book Review no.168 (1995), pp. 51–52.
  • Jennifer Stauss, ‘Married to Matter, Inexorably,’ Australian Book Review no.197 (1997), pp. 55–56.