DAVID ROWBOTHAM: A CHRONICLE

HAWK the poem which the Chairman of the Literature Board of the Australia Council, author and W.A. Supreme Court Judge Nicholas Hasluck, described as "one of the most memorable poems I have read for many years" when it appeared in The Weekend Australian, October 27-28, 2001

POEMS 2002 for Poems selected for publication by The Australian in 2002

PARNASSUS for the American View in detail;

PACIFIC for the unique American poems;

WAR for War Poems and reviews of Penguin Book;

POLITICS for “Slate Poems”, a series on social threat;

PREFACE for introduction to a New Book of Verse;

MEMOIR for the Sydney (Southerly) Memoir;

PROFILE for book titles, brief biography and statement;

VITAE for literary history and bibliography;

RESUME for the chronology of a Life and Events;

ACQUISTION for the story of the Archibald Prize Portrait;

PORTRAITS for portraits of David Rowbotham;

THESIS
for a New Kind of Introduction.

AUSTRALIAN (illustrated) for New Poems published by The Australian

STORIES (illustrated) from David Rowbotham's "Town And City: Tales And Sketches" (A & R Classics, 1956)

NOVEL for an introduction to 'The Man in the Jungle'

CRITICISM for literary criticism (book reviews) by David Rowbotham

Poet, Author, Journalist

Poet and Newspaperman

David Rowbotham is an Australian author, journalist and poet who lives in Brisbane, Queensland. Generations grew up reading his poems, stories and criticism. Many among them were inspired by his work and presence to become writers and journalists themselves. He has been the nation’s most notable poet and newspaperman after Leon Gellert and Kenneth Slessor.

War Veteran and Writer

Now inspired by his age and continuing publication, many of the new generation look to him as their only living national example of how a war-veteran poet nearing his 80s has never stopped work. His work has only got better with time. It still appears in newspapers, in his new books, and in national and overseas anthologies. He has more than 60 years of publishing history behind him.

Home

He is still married to the New Zealand nurse he met in London in 1951. They have two daughters, one a doctor, one a journalist, and there are five grandsons.

Books, Songs, Shoes and Countryside

He was born in 1924 in the Darling Downs city of Toowoomba, of which a great-grand-uncle was mayor. His father Harold was the self-educated son of a pioneering Downs bootmaking family, and his mother Phyllis, who played piano and violin, grew up on pioneering downland farms. Books and songs and shoes and the countryside were his legacy.

The Great Depression

For struggling families during the Great Depression, his was a typical education. After early boyhood in Brisbane, where his father made shoes at Breakfast Creek, he attended Toowoomba East State School, and was then given a scholarship to Toowoomba Grammar, from which he won a teachers’ scholarship. He began his life of gainful employment as a very young probationary teacher in 1941.

On reaching enlistment age, he joined the RAAF. He served as a wireless operator in the South-West Pacific. The Great Depression and Second World War left an indelible mark. This is seen in his poetry.

Breaking into Journalism

He spent his post-war years, till marriage, as a student at Queensland and Sydney universities; as an editorial assistant at the publishers Angus & Robertson, Sydney; and as a freelance journalist in Sydney and London. These were rich years in which he wrote prolifically and met other writers. Then he became staff-columnist for the Toowoomba Chronicle; and joined the staff of the Brisbane Courier-Mail in 1955. His more than 30 years in fulltime journalism had begun. Counting part-time and freelance years, he has spent more than 50 years in his trade.

Arts and Literary Editor

He took his Arts degree by correspondence in 1964, and, after a period of teaching English at Queensland University, he was appointed inaugural arts and literary editor of the Courier-Mail. In that role, for 17 years, he had a significant influence on the development of the arts in Queensland and interstate.

Posted as Dying

Despite heavy newspaper and public duties, he kept on bringing out books. He resigned from his paper in 1987, after sudden illness. In 1996, when in hospital and posted as dying, he wrote and edited the book of poems that came out that year, The Ebony Gates (QCU Press). Since then he has written another book of poems, Pacific Star, which is with publishers. Another two books, both memoirs, are waiting their turn.

The Order of Australia

Now best known for his poetry, he has 18 books to his credit. For this sustained literary achievement combined with his energetic public activities, he has received national and American honours and awards. He is a Member of the Order of Australia and an Emeritus Fellow of Australian Literature. He keeps on astonishing the generations of readers and fellow-writers who recall how important and what a pleasure his work has been to them. Many established writers gained their first prominence because of his reviews. Many of the young seek him out.

The Penguin Book

The editors of his Penguin Book of New and Selected Poems (1994) said: “This will introduce a new generation of readers to (his) work, and will remind his contemporaries that in this writer a lifetime devoted to poetry has created a new and exciting voice. Few writers indeed have achieved such a rare range and compass of work.” David Rowbotham’s voice will remain evergreen, and vital to the history of his country.

An American View

The late American critic Vernon Young, of New York, wrote that “his poems are a revelation”; their use of language has remained modern, making his outlook on Australia and the world forceful today, balanced and wise. He is viewed with respect, and regarded with affection: a major poet and a figure of stature. The themes of his work involve language itself, and places, travel, politics, injustices, history, and “geography as a physical fact of mind”.

Contact
You may contact David directly by sending an email to dhrlit@qct.com.au.

 

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