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Gwen Harwood (Gwendoline Nessie Harwood Biography

(1920–95), (Gwendoline Nessie Harwood, Poems, Poems: Volume Two, Selected Poems, Collected Poems

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: William Hart-Smith Biography to Sir John [Frederick William] Herschel Biography

Australian poet, born in Brisbane. She studied music, which she later taught; her works include a number of librettos for contemporary Australian composers. Her first collection, Poems (1963), deals with themes of physical and emotional anguish, and includes the series of poems featuring ‘Professor Eisenbart’, an ageing nuclear physicist who is, to some extent, perhaps, an ironic projection of herself; it was followed by Poems: Volume Two (1968) which contains the satirical figure of ‘Professor Krote’, a frustrated, and alcoholic, musician. The collection expresses her preoccupation with the difficulties of personal fulfilment, with mortality, loss, and the demands of domesticity. Although her poems frequently reflect intensely personal and moving experiences, they are generally optimistic. Harwood has acknowledged Wittgenstein as an influence and has affirmed her belief in the ‘power of poetry to infuse experience with value’. Other works include Selected Poems (1975; reissued as Collected Poems, 1992), The Lion's Bride (1981), and Bone Scan (1988). She has published work under a number of pseudonyms (including ‘Walter Lehmann’ and ‘Francis Geyer’) and has won numerous awards, including the Robert Frost Award (1977) and the Patrick White Award (1978). Blessed City: The Letters of Gwen Harwood (edited by Alison Hoddinot) appeared in 1990.

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