Stephen Edgar has been described by Clive James as standing out “among recent Australian poets for the perfection of his craft, a limitless wealth of cultural reference and an unmatched ability to make science a living subject for lyrical verse”.
He was born in 1951 in Sydney, where he grew up and went to school. In the early seventies he lived in London; on coming back to Australia in 1974 he moved to Hobart where he lived until late 2005. He has since returned to Sydney. He studied Classics and later librarianship at the University of Tasmania. He has published six collections of poetry, with a seventh due to be published in early 2009. He has received a number of poetry prizes and awards (see list below).
What is most immediately distinctive about him, certainly among poets of his generation, is his commitment to formal verse “and for showing considerable panache in handling [it]” (Kevin Hart, Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry). This has drawn comparisons, in Australia, with poets such as A D Hope and Gwen Harwood, but also with the likes of Anthony Hecht and Richard Wilbur. Poetry (Chicago) says of him that “he achieves, overall, a supple classicism that earns him a place next to the best twentieth-century American formalists.”
List of Prizes
1984 — Harri Jones Memorial Prize, awarded by the English Department of the University of Newcastle (NSW) for an outstanding body of work by a younger poet.
2003 — Grace Leven Poetry Prize and William Baylebridge Memorial Prize for Lost in the Foreground.
2006 — Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for excellence in literature.
2009 — William BayleBridge Memorial Prize for History of the Day.
2011 — Dorothy Porter Poetry Prize (joint winner) for the poem All Eyes.
2013 — ACU Prize for Literature for the poem The Dancer.
2014 — Colin Roderick Award (joint winner) for Eldershaw as best Australian book of 2013.
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