Patron: Dr Kevin Brophy
President: Steve Smart
Address: PO Box 266, 246 Flinders Lane, 8009
BACKGROUND HISTORY OF MELBOURNE POETS UNION
(adapted from POAM August 1998 and some other sources)
Eric Beach, Robert Hughes and ∏0 came up with the idea of forming MPU after the Arts Policy Conference at Trades Hall in Melbourne, 1977.
Ten poets (Eric Beach, Robert Hughes, ∏0, Jas H. Duke (1940-1992), thalia, Cathie Johns, jeltje, Larry Buttrose, Donna Maegraith and Barry Macdonald) met in Melbourne on 27 August that year to form what was originally called the Poets Union.
The original manifesto included:
Branches of the Poets Union sprang up in Adelaide, Bendigo, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Warrnambool and Wollongong. Some of these centres only lasted a short time, others persisted longer, only the Melbourne and Sydney branches remain active.
In Melbourne, Barbara Giles (1912 – 2006) who was one of Melbourne’s most highly regarded poets was the chair of the MPU for many years. She did a great deal for poetry, editing Luna magazine, a first in women’s poetry, and setting up Pariah Press with Joyce Lee (1914-2007), Philip Martin (1931-2005), Cliff Smyth, Lyndon Walker, Stephen J Williams, Diana Kan (1932-1992) and Rosemary Nissen-Wade.
Other poets who were or have been members since the early years include Joyce Lee (1913 – 2007), Connie Barber, Kevin Brophy, Jennifer Strauss, Michael Dugan (1947 – 2006), Rosemary Nissen-Wade, Bill Nissen (dec.1995), Charles D’Anastasi, Lyndon Walker and Charles Rimington (dec. 2007).
Meetings of the MPU have been held in North Melbourne Library, Ross House, The Victoria Writers Centre (Tasma Terrace), the Hawthorn Town Hall, Victorian Writers Centre (Broom Factory), the Trades Hall, and Victorian Writers Centre (Nicholas Building).
MPU’s newsletter POAM (newsletter of the Poets Of Australia Melbourne Branch) began in December 1978.
The National, later, International, Poetry Competition was established in 1995. MPU was incorporated in August 2001. The tradition of an annual bilingual poetry event began in 2001.
Many Melbourne poets have worked on the MPU committee. Past presidents include Barbara Giles, Earl Livings, Bridh Hancock, Helen Sensi (1952 – 2000), Homer Reith, Kristin Henry, Marietta Elliott-Kleerkoper, Wendy Fleming, Robyn Peck, Sue Stanford .
Other committee members have included Leon Shann, Stuart Armstrong and Garth Madsen.
To conclude, special mention should be made of the work of Helen Sensi and committee members Stuart Solman and Ana Greeno who brought the MPU back from a slump of lower membership in the late 1990s.
MPU would like to acknowledge the input of Eric Beach, Connie Barber, Leon Shann and Jennifer Strauss in the compilation of this material.