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Saturday, April 23, 2011

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Michael Dransfield COLLECTED POEMS. University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1987 (401 pages).

 A clever, self taught American writer recently asked me who I regarded as the greatest Australian underground poet of all time. Who was i to offer my bullshit opinion?-  but I was quick off the mark: Michael Dransfield (1948-1973).

After Dransfeld  left his privileged private school life behind he roamed the back streets of Sydney. He became a celebrated poet and drug addict and reportedly died of ‘acute broncho-pneumonia and brain damage’. He was only twenty-four years old.  Dransfield left a legacy of close to one thousand poems.

As a starting point a net sampling of Dransfield’s extraordinary work can be found here:

‘Shit’, ‘Endsight’, ‘Jazz Baby’, ‘Fix’, ‘Overdose’: it is life as viewed from the margins but it is still highly accessible stuff. Tough first person narrative poems. Without a parachute. Knifed reality.

If you are interested in reading a highly readable scholarly study of Dransfield’s work have a look at Louis Armard’s article, ‘STILL LIFE WITH HYPODERMIC: MICHAEL DRANSFIELD AND THE POETRY OF ADDICTION.’

Also check out Derek Motion's valiant attempt to make some sense of Dransfield's work in his article 'Michael Dransfield's Innocent Eyes' (2007) in his Cordite Poetry Review article:

According to a Collected Poems copy is now worth close to $150 (AUS). Buy it here:

UPDATE 3 September 2011: The Australian Poetry Library has recently put an amazing 398 of Dransfield’s poems on their massive Australian poetry site for free. Check it out here: