Kenneth Slessor

1901–1971

Slessor, known as one of the first truly Australian poets, began publishing his poetry in the 1920's in Vision. These early poems illustrated a stylistic movement from Australian bush poetry to a Nietzschean unrestrained joy in beauty and life. The early poems revealed an antimodernist, anti-intellectual paganism.

In his later works, Slessor applied technical innovations to Australian themes. He utilized unconventional rhyme, lyrical experiments, rich imagery, and dramatic techniques. His poetry vented verbal energy mollified by the use of irony. Though melancholy and disillusion were characteristic of Slessor's poetry, individualism and a zest for life were also prominent features. Slessor's favorite themes included time, the sea, and reflections on memory; his message was one of romantic renunciation.

Career

Began journalism career as cadet for Sydney Sun, Sydney, Australia, 1920; staff member of Vision magazine, 1923-24; worked for various newspapers in Melbourne, Australia, c. 1924-27; joined staff of Smith's Weekly, 1927, became editor; literary editor of Sydney Sun, beginning 1944; editor of literary quarterly Southerly, Sydney, 1956-61. Member of advisory board of Australian Commonwealth Literary Fund, beginning 1954. Wartime service: Official war correspondent for Australian Army, 1940-45.

Bibliography

  • Earth-Visitors (poems), Fanfrolico Press, 1926.
  • One Hundred Poems, 1919-1939, Angus & Robertson, 1944, revised edition published as Poems, 1957, new edition published as Selected Poems, 1978.
  • (Co-editor) The Penguin Book of Australian Verse, Penguin, 1958.
  • Life at the Cross, Rigby (Adelaide, Australia), 1965.
  • Canberra (poems), Rigby (Adelaide, Australia), 1966.
  • Bread and Wine: Selected Prose, edited by Dennis Haskell and Geoffrey Dutton, Angus and Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1970.
  • The War Diaries of Kenneth Slessor, Official Australian Correspondent, 1940-1944, edited by Clement Semmler, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1985.
  • The War Dispatches of Kenneth Slessor, Official Australian Correspondent, 1940-1944, edited by Clement Semmler, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1987.
  • Kenneth Slessor: Poetry, Essays, War Dispatches, War Diaries, Journalism, Autobiographical Material, and Letters, edited by Dennis Haskell, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1991.
  • Collected Poems Angus and Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1994.

Contributor:

  • Gwen Morton Spencer and Sam Ure Smith, editors, Portrait of Sydney: A Photographic Impression, U. Smith, 1950.

Also author of Thief of the Moon, 1924, Surf, 1930, Trio, 1931, Cuckoo Contrey, 1932, and Five Bells, 1939.

Further Reading

PERIODICALS

  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 14, Gale, 1980.

Discover this poet’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

LIFE SPAN 1901–1971

Biography

Slessor, known as one of the first truly Australian poets, began publishing his poetry in the 1920's in Vision. These early poems illustrated a stylistic movement from Australian bush poetry to a Nietzschean unrestrained joy in beauty and life. The early poems revealed an antimodernist, anti-intellectual paganism.

In his later works, Slessor applied technical innovations to Australian themes. He utilized unconventional rhyme, . . .

Report a problem with this biography

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.