Donald Bruce Dawe
Biography of Donald Bruce Dawe
Donald Bruce Dawe AO is an Australian poet, and is considered by many as one of the most influential Australian poets of all time.
Bruce Dawe was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne in 1930. Bruce Dawe's mother and father were from farming backgrounds in Victoria and, like his own sisters and brother, never had the opportunity to complete primary school. He always had encouragement from them (the younger of his two sisters also wrote poetry) and his mother, proud of her Lowlands Scots ancestry, would often recite poems she had learned in her 19th century childhood. Dawe's father's ancestors came from Wyke Regis in Dorset, England, in the mid-19th century. Dawe attended six schools before leaving Northcote High School at 16 without completing his Leaving Certificate. Of the four children in the family, he was the only one to attend secondary school.
Dawe was educated at Northcote High School, Melbourne. After leaving school at 16, he worked in various occupations (labourer, farmhand, clerk, sawmill-hand, gardener and postman) before joining the RAAF in1959. He left the RAAF in 1968 and began a teaching career at Downlands College, Toowoomba in 1969. He holds four university degrees (BA, MLitt, MA and PhD) - all completed by part-time study.
He was appointed as Lecturer at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE) in 1971, became a Senior Lecturer in1980 and an Associate Professor following the status change to the University of Southern Queensland. He was awarded the inaugural DDIAE Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988. He retired from full-time teaching in 1993 and was appointed as the first Honorary Professor of USQ in recognition of his contribution to the University. He has taught U3A classes ever since his retirement from full-time teaching.
Until he went to University on a teaching scholarship in 1954, he worked in a wide range of jobs: as a clerk in various firms, as well as a sales assistant, an office-boy in an advertising agency, and a copy-boy at Melbourne newspapers Truth and the Sun. He also worked as a labourer in the Public Works Department, as a tailer-out in various Melbourne saw-mills, and as a farm-hand in the Cam River valley.
Dawe gained university entrance by completing his Adult Matriculation by part-time study in 1953 and enrolled at Melbourne University. He left university at the end of 1954 and moved to Sydney where he worked as a labourer in a glass factory and later in a factory manufacturing batteries. Returning to Melbourne in 1956, he worked as a postman for two years and as a self-employed gardener.
Dawe joined the RAAF in 1959 as a trainee telegraphist, but re-mustered as an education assistant. He was posted to Malaysia and returned to Melbourne after six months.
Leaving the RAAF in 1968, Dawe began teaching at Downlands College, a Catholic boys college—Dawe became Catholic in 1954—in Toowoomba, Queensland. After teaching English and History at secondary level for two and a half years, he became a tertiary lecturer in English Literature at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education in Toowoomba. He taught there from 1971, retiring in 1993 as an Associate Professor at what had become the University of Southern Queensland.
Dawe married Gloria Desley Blain on 27 January 1964. Between Dec 1964 and Jul 1969, Bruce and Gloria had four children: Brian, twins Jamie and Katrina, and Melissa. Gloria died on 30 Dec 1997 after a long battle with cancer.
Dawe has four degrees, all completed by part-time study: B.A. (Qld.), M.Litt. (U.N.E.), M.A. (Qld.), and Ph.D. (Qld.). He now teaches various literature courses in the U3A A (University of the Third Age, an organisation for senior citizens).
1965 – winner of the Myer Poetry Prize
1967 – winner of the Ampol Arts Award for Creative Literature
1968 – winner of the Myer Poetry Prize
1973 – winner of the Dame Mary Gilmore Medal
1978 – winner of the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry
1979 – winner of the Braille Book of the Year
1980 – winner of the Patrick White Literary Award
1984 – winner of the Christopher Brennan Award
1990 – Paul Harris Fellowship of Rotary International
1992 – made an Officer of the Order of Australia: "In recognition of service to Australian literature, particularly in the field of poetry"
1996 – Alumni Award by the University of New England
1997 – winner of the inaugural Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal at the Mildura Writer's Festival
2000 – Australian Council for the Arts Emeritus Writers Award for his long and outstanding contribution to Australian literature
2001 – awarded the Centenary Medal for "distinguished service to the arts through poetry"
Donald Bruce Dawe's Works:
No Fixed Address (Cheshire, 1962)
A Need of Similar Name (Cheshire, 1965)
An Eye for a Tooth (Cheshire, 1968)
Beyond the subdivisions : poems (Cheshire, 1969)
Heat-Wave. Melbourne (Sweeney Reed, 1970)
Condolences of the season : selected poems (Cheshire, 1971)
Just a Dugong at Twilight: Mainly Light Verse (Cheshire, 1975)
Sometimes Gladness: Collected Poems 1954-1978. (Longman Cheshire, 1978)
Selected Poems. (London, Longman, 1984)
Towards sunrise: poems 1979-1986 (Longman Cheshire, 1986)
This side of silence : poems 1987-1990 (Longman Cheshire, 1990)
Mortal instruments : poems 1990-1995 (Longman, 1995)
A Poet's People. (South Melbourne, Addison Wesley Longman, 1998)
The Headlong Traffic : Poems and Prose Monologues 1997 to 2002 (Longman, 2003)
Sometimes Gladness: collected poems, 1954-2005, 6th Edition (Longman Cheshire, 2006)
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One constant in a world of variables
- A man alone in the evening in his patch of vegetables,
and all the things he takes down with him there
Where the easement runs along the back fence and the air
smells of tomato-vines, and the hoarse rasping tendrils
of pumpkin flourish clumsy whips and their foliage sprawls
Over the compost-box, poising rampant upon