Peter Porter (poet)

Peter Porter (poet)

Peter Neville Frederick Porter (born 16 February 1929) is an Australian-born British poet. He was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of The Group.


Porter was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1929. His mother died in 1938. He emigrated to England in 1951, and in 1955 he began attending meetings of "The Group."

He met Shirley Jannice Henry in 1958 and they married in 1961. They had two daughters born in 1962 and 1965. Jannice committed suicide in 1974.

In 1991 Porter married Christine Berg.

In 2001 he was Poet in Residence at the Royal Albert Hall.

In 2004 he was one of the nominees for the prestigious position of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.


His poems first began appearing in summer 1958 and October 1959 issues of "Delta" [Kaiser, page 99] . The publication of his poem 'Metamorphosis' in the Times Literary Supplement in January 1960 brought his work to a wider audience. ["TLS" No. 3021. Kaiser, page 99] His first collection — "Once Bitten, Twice Bitten" — was published by Scorpion Press in 1961.

Influences on his work include: W. H. Auden, John Ashbery, and Wallace StevensFact|date=August 2007.

He has gone through distinct poetic stages, from the epigrams and satires of his early works - "Once Bitten Twice Bitten", to the elegiac mode of his later ones - "The Cost of Seriousness" and "English Subtitles".

Much of his work is satire, and he has been described as one of the few really talented satirists to emerge in the 1950s and 1960s.

In a recorded conversation with his friend Clive James he stated:

"the glory of present-day English writing in America, in Australia and in Britain, is what is left over of the old regular metrical pattern and how that can be adapted to the new sense that the main element, the main fixture of poetry is no longer the foot (you know, the iambus or the trochee) but the cadence. It seems that what is very important is to get the best of the old authority, the best of the old discipline along with the best of the new freedom of expression."

In 2007 he was made a Royal Society of Literature Companion of Literature, an honour bestowed to a maximum of ten living writers.


* 1983 Duff Cooper Memorial Prize for his first Collected Poems
* 1988 Whitbread Poetry Award for "Automatic Oracle"
* 1990 Australian Literature Society Gold Medal for "Possible Worlds"
* 1998 The First King's Lynn Award for Merit in Poetry
* 2000 Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal at the Mildura Writer's Festivalcite web |title= Mildura Writers' Festival, Thursday 20 - Sunday 23 July 2006 |publisher= Arts Festival 07 Mildura/Wentworth |url= |accessdate= 2007-08-04 ]
* 2002 Forward Poetry Prize for "Max Is Missing"
* 2002 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry
* 2004 Medal of the Order of Australia
* 2004 Honorary Fellow of the English Association, UK
* 2007 Royal Society of Literature Companion of Literature


Individual Collections

* "Once Bitten Twice Bitten," Scorpion Press, 1961.
* "Poems Ancient and Modern," Scorpion Press, 1964.
* "A Porter Folio," Scorpion Press, 1969.
* "The Last of England," Oxford University Press, 1970.
* "After Martial," Oxford University Press, 1972.
* "Preaching to the Converted," Oxford University Press, 1972.
* "Jonah," with Arthur Boyd Secker & Warburg, 1973.
* "Living in a Calm Country," Oxford University Press, 1975.
* "The Lady and the Unicorn (poetry book)|The Lady and the Unicorn," with Arthur Boyd Secker & Warburg, 1975.
* "The Cost of Seriousness," Oxford University Press, 1978.
* "English Subtitles," Oxford University Press, 1981.
* "Fast Forward (poetry book)|Fast Forward," Oxford University Press, 1984.
* "Narcissus" with Arthur Boyd, Seckers & Warburg, London, 1984.
* "The Automatic Oracle," Oxford University Press, 1987.
* "Mars," with Arthur Boyd Deutsch, 1988.
* "Possible Worlds," Oxford University Press, 1989.
* "The Chair of Babel," Oxford University Press, 1992.
* "Millennial Fables," Oxford University Press, 1994.
* "Dragons in Their Pleasant Palaces," Oxford University Press, 1997.
* "Both Ends Against the Middle," 1999 as a section in "Collected Poems" Volume 2.
* "Max Is Missing," Picador/Macmillan, 2001.
* "Afterburner," Picador/Macmillan, 2004.


* "Solemn Adultery at Breakfast Creek" The Keepsake Press, London, 1968 (200 copies)
* "A King's Lynn Suite," King's Lynn Poetry Festival, 1999.
* "Return to Kerguelen," Vagabond Press, London, 2001.


* "Words Without Music," Sycamore Press, 1968.
* "Epigrams by Martial," Poem-of-the-Month Club, 1971.


* "After Martial" Oxford University Press, 1972.
* from the "Greek Anthology" in Penguin Classics edition
* "Michelangelo, Life, Letters, and Poetry", with George Bull Oxford University Press, 1987.

elected and Collected

* "Collected Poems", Oxford University Press, 1983.
* "A Porter Selected: Poems 1959-1989". Oxford University Press, 1989.
* "Collected Poems". 2 vols. Oxford & Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1999.


* "Saving from the Wreck: Essays on Poetry". Trent, 2001.

Appearance in Collections and Anthologies

* "Penguin Modern Poets, No. 2" (Kingsley Amis, Dom Moraes, Peter Porter). Penguin, 1962.
* "British Poetry since 1945" (ed. Edward Lucie-Smith), Penguin, 1970
* 'Rivers: A Poem Sequence' in "Rivers" (Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2002) which also included poetry by Sean O'Brien and John Kinsella

Books Edited

* "A Choice of Pope’s Verse" Faber & Faber, 1971.
* "New Poems, 1971-1972: A P. E. N. Anthology of Contemporary Poetry" Hutchinson, 1972.
* "The English Poets: From Chaucer to Edward Thomas", with Anthony Thwaite Secker & Warburg, 1974.
* "New Poetry I] ", with [Charles Osborne, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1975.
* "Thomas Hardy, selected", with photographs by John Hedgecoe. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1981.
* "The Faber Book of Modern Verse" 4th edition, originally edited by Michael Roberts Faber & Faber, 1982.
* "William Blake, selected" , Oxford University Press, 1986
* "Christina Rossetti, selected", Oxford University Press, 1986
* "William Shakespeare", with an introduction, C.N. Potter, 1987, Aurum, 1988.
* "Complete Poems", by Martin Bell, Bloodaxe, 1988.
* "John Donne", edited, Aurum, 1988.
* "The Fate of Vultures: New Poetry of Africa", with Kofi Anyidoho, and Musaemura Zimunya. Heinemann International, 1989.
* "Lord Byron", Aurum, 1989
* "W. B. Yeats: The Last Romantic", Aurum, 1990.
* "Percy Bysshe Shelley, selected", Aurum, 1991.
* "Elizabeth Barrett Browning, selected", Aurum, 1992.
* "Robert Burns, selected", Aurum, 1992.
* "The Romantic Poets: Byron, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, selected", Aurum, 1992.
* "Robert Browning, selected", Aurum, 1993.
* "Samuel Taylor Coleridge, selected" Aurum, 1994.
* "The Oxford Book of Australian Verse" Oxford University Press, 1996.
* "Selected Poems of Lawrence Durrell" Faber and Faber, 2006.

cores and Libretti

* "Annotations of Auschwitz", with music by David Lumsdaine Universal Edition, 1975.
* "Orpheus: A Chamber Opera in One Act", music by Geoffrey Burgon Chester Music, 1985.
* "The Voice of Love", words for a song cycle, music by Nicholas Maw.
* "St Francis and the Wolf", an opera for children, music by Ronald Senator



* "When London Calls: The Expatriation of Australian Creative Artists to Britain", Cambridge University Press, 1999
* Kaiser, John R: "Peter Porter: A Bibliography 1954 – 1986" Mansell, London and New York, 1990. ISBN 0-7201-2032-2.
* Steele, Peter, "Peter Porter: Oxford Australian Writers" Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992. ISBN 0-19-553282-1

External links

NAME=Porter, Peter
DATE OF BIRTH= 16 February 1929
PLACE OF BIRTH= Brisbane, Australia

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