Bruce Dawe RIP The Fitzroy Lad Who Became a Toowoomba Icon

Bruce (Donald) Dawe was born 15 February 1930 in Fitzroy, Victoria. Bruce Dawe's first poems were published under the pseudonym of Llewellyn Rhys while he was still at school. After leaving school at the age of sixteen, Dawe worked as a labourer, farmhand, clerk, gardener and postman. From 1959-1968 he served in the RAAF, completing his first degree and his first two volumes of poetry during this period.
He then taught English at Downlands College, Toowoomba, and in 1971 became a lecturer in Literature at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (later known as the University of Southern Queensland). In 1990, after completing his masters and doctoral degrees, Dawe was made an Associate Professor of the University of Southern Queensland, and appointed as the first Honorary Professor at the same institution in 1993.
A prolific poet, Dawe's work is often characterised by a light approach and the use of satire to explore frequently sombre themes such as the struggle of the individual to find meaning in everyday life, the domestic sphere, the effects of war, political oppression and corruption, and the importance of conservation. The Oxford companion to Australian literature praises his skilful use of 'speech cadences that combine the brashly colloquial of the spoken Australian language ... with subtle and deftly placed lyricism'.
Dawe's awards include:
Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Poetry, 1997: winner
FAW Christopher Brennan Award, 1983: winner
Patrick White Award, 1980: winner
Patricia Hackett Prize, 2003: joint winner for Evening on a country road
Patricia Hackett Prize, 2003: joint winner for Drayton Cemetery memory
National Book Council Award for Australian Literature, 1979: highly commended for Sometimes gladness : collected poems 1954-1978
Grace Leven Poetry Prize, 1978: winner for Sometimes gladness : collected poems 1954-1978
Dame Mary Gilmore Award, 1973: winner for Condolences of the season : selected poems
Sidney Myer Charity Trust Award for Poetry, 1968: winner for An eye for a tooth : poems
Myer Award for Australian Poetry, 1965: winner for A need of similar name.
Dawe's publications include No fixed address (1962), A need of similar name (1965), An eye for a tooth (1968), Beyond the subdivisions (1969), Heat wave (1970), Condolences of the season: selected poems (1971), Dimensions (ed. 1974), Just a dugong at twilight: mainly light verse (1975), Sometimes gladness: collected poems 1954-1978 (1978), Five modern comic writers (1981), Over here, Harv! (1983), Towards sunrise: poems 1979-1986 (1986), Speaking in parables (ed. 1987), This side of silence: poems 1987-1990 (1990), Mortal instruments: poems 1990-1995 (1995), Sometimes gladness: collected poems 1954-1997 (5th ed.) (1997), A poet's people (1999), Towards a war " twelve reflections (2003), The headlong traffic : poems and prose monologues 1997 to 2002 (2003), 'Hier und anderswo' / 'Here and elsewhere' : ausgewahlte gedichte / selected poems (2003) and Sometimes gladness " collected poems, 1954 to 2005 (2006). (Source)

We have lost another great Australian poet with the death of Bruce Dawe RIP.

Yeah, but there were others in between. There was a girl that I knew for three years under my pen name. I never told her my real name, because it sounded so dumb and ordinary after ... I called myself ... I was crazy about Dylan Thomas and I called myself Llewellyn Rees, which is as Welsh as you can get. And she knew me always as Llewellyn. We didn't live close together and of course, neither I think of us had phones on so there was no way of checking. And I didn't like to disabuse her. At that stage, when I had hair and I was a lot leaner, I could have passed, I suppose, for a lanky Welshman, not that there were that many. But it's kind of part of the thing. I wasn't being dishonest, I was just trying to help her keep up her romantic image of another writer. She ... she used to write, and I met her through us both publishing, I think, poems in the Junior Age, the Melbourne paper.

So close to Holy Week let's take in one of my favourite works from this legend:
And a Good Friday Was Had by All
Bruce Dawe
You men there, keep those women back
and God Almighty he laid down
on the crossed timber and old Silenus
my offsider looked at me as if to say
nice work for soldiers, your mind’s not your own
once you sign that dotted line Ave Caesar
and all that malarkey Imperator Rex
well this Nazarene
didn’t make it any easier
really-not like the ones
who kick up a fuss so you can
do your block and take it out on them
held the spikes steady and I let fly
with the sledge-hammer, not looking
on the downswing trying hard not to hear
over the women’s wailing the bones give way
the iron shocking the dumb wood.
Orders is orders, I said after it was over
nothing personal you understand -we had a
drill-sergeant once thought he was God but he wasn’t
a patch on you
then we hauled on the ropes
and he rose in the hot air
like a diver just leaving the springboard, arms spread
so it seemed
over the whole damned creation
over the big men who must have had it in for him
and the curious ones who’ll watch anything if it’s free
with only the usual women caring anywhere
and a blind man in tears.