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    The Best 100 Poems of Les Murray

    Waiting for the Past by Les Murray. On Bunyah by Les Murray oMurray is a brash but also breathtakingly brilliant and often both at onceo -The Australian Bunyah has been my refuge and home place all my Selected Poems by Denise Riley 'Wide-ranging, sometimes anguished, her poems are fascinating and often beautiful, and certainly more than usually thought-provoking. Heide by Pi. Sign up to our newsletter for new releases, events and special offers Subscribe. Internationally respected, Les was named him one of Sydney's ten most influential people in sport by the influential French sports daily, L'Equipe.

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      Seamus [Heaney, the Irish poet who won the Nobel in ] rang me up and I said, 'What does it entail, Seamus, how long does the interference with your life go on? Murray has always been what he calls a language freak.

      Les Murray - poet

      He was bullied at school - ''more or less ridiculed every day and given a hell of a time for their amusement and had nobody to back me up; I think it was because I was a bit of a nerd, and a bushie as well'' - but two teachers turned him on to poetry and he fell in love with it. At 18 he figured he could make a life out of poetry, though he didn't really get started until he was So looking back, is he surprised by the trajectory of his life? The boy from the bush who didn't start school until he was nine and whose mother died when he was 12?

      I knew I didn't want to go to a nine-to-five job and didn't want to go back to being a dairy farmer. I felt it was going to have to be on a tangent of some sort; there are a lot of tangents around if you look for them. Murray says the black dog [of depression] that afflicted him for so long is now ''more of a grey dog''. A couple of poems ''did more than anything to calm it down''. There is Burning Want , which dwells on the bullying - ''But all my names were fat-names, at my new school. Les' grandfather had asked Les' father, Cecil, to cut down a tree but Cecil, then a timber worker, said it shouldn't be.

      Archie didn't know enough about timber and he felled it into his head and killed himself. The consequences were terrible.


      Grandfather felt furious with dad for not cutting it down … so they hated each other and fought like cats and dogs for the rest of their lives. They would have great screaming rows and never mention what they were fighting about. Cecil was spitefully deprived of the gift of a farm when he married - his father made him pay rent - and when his wife died after a third miscarriage when Les was 12, ''the double whammy was too much for my father and it broke him, tore him into pieces; it all turned into grief and misery''.

      Les Murray says he's a cousin about five times removed. There was one in the 18th century, the next was Sir James.