Bruce Dawe is Australia's most popular poet due to a variety of qualities of his poetry. His poetry speaks to the common man, is rooted firmly in the Australian culture and focuses on topical issues that are interesting and influencing life in Australia. In this presentation, I shall describe Bruce Dawe's unique qualities that made him the popular poet he is today, through examples and extrapolations of a few of his poems.
First, a little about the man himself. Dawe was born in 1930 in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. The Depression had a profound effect on him as a young boy, in that his early life was spent on the move, as his famous early poem Drifters, while not autobiographical, describes. He himself had many jobs as an adult before joining the RAAF in 1959 - labourer, farmhand, clerk, gardener and postman. He eventually became a teacher and then professor at the University of Southern Queensland, having gained four degrees, and though this education is out of the ordinary, he himself denies being such.
Dawe's reputation as a poet is for his celebration of "being ordinary". With his use of everyday, colloquial speech, especially the Australian idiom, with his popular poems about football, local events, trivia, politics, Australian suburbia, as well as his poems on love and death, terror and fear, he is labeled the "people's poet", "an ordinary bloke, with a respect for the ordinary".
His poetry has an unfussed kind of eloquence, wonderfully pitched so it will speak to people of little education or great education. His poems are forged with skill and, despite the vernacular, eloquence.
Life-Cycle is what I consider his most elemental poetry. It speaks to everyone from the Prime Minister to Bob the cement mixer.
This poem is a testament to...