A Poet's Archive

A Poet's Archive
Peter Porter's Creative Legacy Conference

29 July 2016, 9.30am-5pm
Theatre, Lower Ground 1

$25 (includes collection viewing and light refreshments)

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Peter Porter is considered one of the greatest later twentieth century poets. Expatriate in London since 1951, his reputation was established by his inclusion in the 1961 second volume of the Penguin Modern Poets anthology series. His elegiac poetry following the sudden death in 1974 of his wife Jannice, has been compared to Hardy.  Porter was awarded many honours, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the Gold Medal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. In Britain he was considered an Australian poet, in Australia he was sometimes considered British, although he often returned for visits, and the series of radio dialogues with his fellow expatriate poet Clive James, was broadcast regularly on ABC radio.

The National Library first acquired papers from Peter Porter in 1982, with some small, later additions, also mainly of drafts and notebooks for his writing. The bulk of the papers of Peter Porter were acquired after his death in 2010, and are an astonishing record of Australian cultural and artistic life from the 1970s. Peter was a prolific correspondent and the more than 69 boxes of letters within the papers are ‘who’s who’ of distinguished literary, artistic and cultural figures, with letters from significant artists such as John Olsen and Arthur Boyd, musical figures like Roger Covell and Don Banks, and many other writers, including Les Murray, Shirley Hazzard, Tom Shapcott, David Malouf.

The correspondence reveals Peter’s great encouragement and generosity towards many Australian poets - including Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Gig Ryan, Peter Goldsworthy, Craig Sherborne and Adrian Caesar, who will speak at the symposium. Peter’s widow Christine, and his daughters Katherine and Jane, will be present at the symposium, which will conclude with a moving tribute by his friend Clive James. 

Supported by the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.





Registration and coffee/tea on arrival



Anne-Marie Schwirtlich
Director-General, National Library of Australia


Keynote address: 'The Cost of Serious Wit'

Chris Wallace-Crabbe


Peter Porter's Archive

Dr Marie-Louise Ayres
Assistant Director General, National Collections Access, National Library of Australia


Collection viewing - Peter Porter Archive
Nan Kivell Room, Level 2

Lunch break (lunch not included)


A Poet's Legacy: Panel Discussion
This session explores how Peter Porter’s poetry and friendship has influenced the work of other poets. 

Chair: Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Speakers: Gig Ryan, Craig Sherborne and Peter Goldsworthy


Afternoon tea


Creative Conversations: Panel Discussion
This session will explore the range of Peter Porter’s interests and influences through his friendships. 

Chair: Adrian Caesar

Speakers: Roger Covell, Morag Fraser and Darleen Bungey


Christine Porter


Reading - Clive James' reading of Silent Sky


Concluding remarks

Anne-Marie Schwirtlich
Director-General, National Library of Australia


Event concludes, Library closes