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Philip Mead (1953 – )

Philip Mead, Melbourne, 2008, photo by John Tranter Philip Mead, Melbourne, 2008, photo by John Tranter

Philip Mead was born in Brisbane in 1953. He was educated in Queensland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and began writing and publishing poetry in the early 1970s. With other students and Canberra poets, including Alan Gould, he established the journal Canberra Poetry, and participated in the small press poetry publisher Open Door Press. Mead graduated from the Australian National University with a BA (Honours) degree in 1975, and subsequently completed an MA at La Trobe (1981), and a PhD at the University of Melbourne (1990). He has held academic positions at the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, and the University of Tasmania. In 2009, he was appointed as the inaugural chair in Australian Literature at the University of Western Australia.

Mead's first poetry collection, Songs from Another Country, was hand-set and published by the Open Door Press in 1975. This was followed by three further collections published in the early 1980s: Be Faithful Go (1980), The Spring-Mire (1982), and The River Is In The South (1984). Since the 1980s he has occasionally published his poems in literary journals and newspapers, but has also made a particularly distinguished contribution to Australian poetry as an editor and scholar. From 1987-1994 he was poetry editor for Meanjin, and in 1991, he co-edited (with John Tranter) the influential anthology The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry. His other editorial work includes a book of critical essays on Kenneth Slessor (1997), and Hardening of the Light, a selected volume of David Campbell's poetry (2006). He has published many critical essays and articles on Australian poetry, and a book-length study, Networked Language: Culture and History in Australian Poetry (2009), which won the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award for Literary Scholarship.

Poetry Collections

Songs from Another Country: poems (Canberra: Open Door Press, 1975)

Be Faithful Go: poems (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1980).

The Spring-Mire: poems (Canberra: Brindabella Press, 1982).

The River Is In The South (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1984).

Suggested Further Reading 

Bruce Beaver, 'A Wide Terrain of Psychic Experience,'  Weekend Australian, 3-4 March 1984, p.12.

John Forbes, 'Language and Landscape,' Meanjin 43.3 (1984), pp. 453-57.

Philip Mead, Networked Language: Culture and History in Australian Poetry (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009).

Jaya Savige, 'Poetry Lives, OK?'  Australian Literary Review 5.5 (2010), pp.16-17.

Chris Wallace-Crabbe, 'Vacancy in Modern Australian Poetry,' in Xavier Pons and Marcienne Rocard, eds., Colonisations: Rencontres Australie-Canada (Tolouse, France: Universite de Tolouse-Le Mirail, 1985), pp. 137-44.